These Vietnamese peppery garlic, herby meatballs are great in a noodle bowl, perfect on a Banh Mi, or served on a skewer with rice. You will find so many ways to use them because they are THAT good!
Everyone loves meatballs and these Vietnamese grilled pork meatballs make the best noodle bowl around!
They would also make great appetizers, whether served on a toothpick or skewer, and just like meatballs are inhaled at any party, these will be inhaled faster. Serve them with a little sriracha mayo to dunk, and they will be the hit of the party!
These pork meatballs are also great for Vietnamese banh mi’s, (a Vietnamese sub) which these grilled meatballs were intended for, and they would make an awesome filling for a lettuce wrap.
Personally I love noodle bowls and since it has been so hot so early in the season, I wanted something a bit lighter than a big Vietnamese sub!
Noodle bowls are perfect for summer eating. They are light and nutritious. The ingredients can be kept on hand and customized to your heart’s content.
A fun summer party idea would be a buffet of all of these ingredients assembled salad bar style so that everyone could customize their own noodle bowl or banh mi.
Making the grilled pork meatballs is a cinch. Just combine and grill or cook on the stove. I must say that these peppery, garlic, herby meatballs are incredible. I was eating them cold out of the fridge!
Making the carrot daikon salad is also quick and simple. The slicing is what takes the longest. These “pickles” keep in the fridge a few days so make them ahead if you choose.
The nuoc cham dressing keeps almost forever in the fridge. so make up a batch when you have a chance.
From there it is a matter of slicing the ingredients for the noodle bowl. I love making these in summer because basil and cilantro and mint are always in my garden, as are jalapenos!
If you’ve never had Vietnamese, these Asian meatballs are the perfect way to get started. You will find that garlic, black pepper and basil are common components in Vietnamese recipes.
The first time I had Vietnamese food was in 1986. OK, give or take a few years on either side. It was in the fall and it was chilly outside. We had to debate whether to wait, (as the line was out the door) or to find somewhere else to spend our dimes.
Wait we did, and as we edged slowly inside, we found ourselves in the pass where the food comes out. Torture is what it was, as we watched giant platters of fried soft shell crabs and eggrolls, passing by under our noses.
Enormous baskets of salad composed of the freshest mint, cilantro and green leaf lettuce surrounded by bean sprouts and slices of seeds in, dark green jalapenos were nestled along side pickled orange carrots and white daikon.
Our noses inhaled the garlic, the fish sauce, the caramelized sugar and lime juice, as we tried to not reach our hands out to grab each passing dish.
And if you must know this teeny tiny place was a real dump. You couldn’t help but wonder what was lurking behind closed doors, but the food looked impeccable; and it was recommended by the local trendy newspaper.
Since we were trend setters back then, we had to go. My life has not been the same since. I used to have a love affair with Chinese food, but after my first experience with Vietnamese-well, there’s no turning back.
Truth be told, they aren’t too similar. In fact they aren’t similar at all, except that they are both made in a wok and both employ chopsticks to eat.
Vietnamese incorporates freshness with salads, grills, limes and fish sauce. Lots of seafood. The sour/sweet/salty thing really must have begun with Vietnamese food, but don’t quote me on that.
And remember the French had a lot to do with Vietnamese food. Think banh mi’s (Vietnamese subs) made with baguettes. And butter and mayo. Many Vietnamese sauces, especially seafood dishes, incorporate butter.
If you’ve never tried Vietnamese food, these meatballs are the perfect way to get started. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Want Some More?
If you haven’t had a Vietnamese noodle bowl, it is time. This savory and fresh grilled pork meatball noodle bowl is my favorite anytime food!
1 lb ground meat of choice
1/4 chopped fresh basil
4 minced garlic cloves
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 T fish sauce
1 T sriracha
1 T sugar
2 t cornstarch
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1 t kosher or coarse salt
For the Noodle Bowl:
Carrot Daikon Salad from here
1 c thinly sliced cucumber
6 cups sliced green leaf or romaine lettuce
1/2 c mint sprigs
1/2 c Thai basil sprigs
1/2 c cilantro
1 large jalapeno sliced
1 1/2 c fresh bean sprouts
Nuoc Cham (Dressing for the salad)
Rice Stick Noodles (Maifun) (1 package)
1/2 c chopped peanuts
Meatballs from above
Nuoc Cham Sauce:
1/4 c freshly squeezed lime juice
1 finely chopped garlic clove
3 T fish sauce
4 T sugar
4 T water
1/4 t red chili flakes
1 T sweet chili sauce (Mae Ploy)
Mix all ingredients together in bowl. Form each into about 2 inch meatballs. Chill.
Preheat grill, then place these on an oiled grill tray and slowly grill at medium high heat while turning them as they brown. Or you could skewer them like shish kebab and grill them slowly also or fry them in a tablespoon of oil in a nonstick skillet on the stove.
Soak rice noodles in very hot or boiling water according to package directions. Let soften for about 10 minutes. You may have to keep changing your water to get these soft enough. Texture and consistency is important here. Not too soft, not too hard. And it is not an exact science! Drain well when they are ready.
Prepare all ingredients for the noodle bowl and set aside.
To prepare individual bowl:
Put a handful of noodles in a bowl. Top with lettuce. Top with mint, basil, cilantro, jalapenos, slices of cucumbers and bean sprouts. Add some carrot daikon salad. Place meatballs on last. Garnish with peanuts. Serve with Nuoc Cham on the side so diners can add as needed.
After reading about fish sauce I realized that the reason it was so hard to get my nuoc cham tasting like the restaurants’, was clearly related to the quality of fish sauce used.
A preferred brand is Three Crabs fish sauce, also labeled Viet Huong. Red Boat is another. There are other more expensive brands that I would like to try, but this one worked out well. And this sauce is crucial to the taste of the noodle bowl. Another thing I discovered is to stick with products from the country of origin. In other words, using a Thai fish sauce might change the flavor profile of this dish- or it might not!
Meatballs: from Bon Appetit January 2010
Keywords: Vietnamese Noodle Bowl, Nuoc cham, grilled meatballs, Asian meatballs