Vietnamese Inspired Pork Meatballs

May 20, 2021

My very first job in the hospitality industry was at a Vietnamese and Thai restaurant in my hometown.  I remember the aromas coming out of the kitchen and the Vietnamese women, cooking at the stove.  Nicole,  the owner inspired so much in me.  I had grown up in the kitchen but once I got a taste of the restaurant business, I was hooked.  Though I mostly worked in the front of the house, I was the first to volunteer for prep, or to help out on the line when some called in sick.  The moments I got to step into the kitchen and learn were truly some of the best times in my hospitality career.


These meatballs are inspired by the amazing cooks at The Lemon Grass Restaurant in the ’90s.  They inspired me in ways I didn’t even understand back then, but now I see all those moments they took to teach me or answer questions come together as I build this blog.  I will be forever grateful.


I hope you enjoy these easy Vietnamese Inspired Pork Meatballs as much as my wife does.  We eat them as an appetizer, in a bun, wrapped in a piece of crisp lettuce or with rice.  You can absolutely sub out fresh ingredients, but I wanted this recipe to be easy and approachable for anyone.  We don’t always have fresh ginger or garlic in our kitchens, but we can’t let that stop us so we use the spice powders and granules to make these meatballs come together quickly and easily.

12 to 14 Meatballs (Depending on Size)

½ cup of crushed crackers (Hu Kitchen Almond Flour Crackers for Grain Free/ Gluten Free Meatballs or Ritz crackers)

1 teaspoon powdered ginger

1 teaspoon garlic granules or powder

3 teaspoons coconut sugar or 1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon salt

½ tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon tamari, coconut aminos, or soy sauce

1 pound ground pork

Cooking Methods: Pan Fry: Medium/High and Medium/Low  Airfryer: Preheated @  380˚


Crush the crackers and add them to a bowl with all the spices, fish sauce, and tamari to make a paste.  Add the pork and gently mix the paste into the ground meat.  Once mixed make the meatballs.  I like to use a cookie scoop to measure out 1-inch meatballs, but a tablespoon works too.  You just want the meatballs to be equal in size so they cook evenly and are done at the same time.


Air Fryer:  Place meatballs in the air fryer evenly spaced apart.  Cook for 12 minutes at 380˚ turning meatballs halfway through.  Meatballs are cooked through when the internal temperature reaches 160˚


Frying Pan:  Add 2 tablespoons of avocado oil to a pan on medium/high heat.  And meatballs with a little space between each one to allow air to escape.  Cook for 5 minutes, until the side, has a brown crust.  Flip, and cook the other side for 2 minutes.  Turn heat down to medium/low and allow meatballs to cook for an additional 5 to 7 minutes until internal temperature reaches 160˚


Serve with Quick Pickled Carrots and Daikon, on a bun with Spicy Chili Mayo, in a crisp piece of lettuce or over rice.  Or just eat them as is.

Tips

Butter crackers (like Ritz) will give you the best texture and flavor, but I like to keep things grain-free, so I use my favorite almond cracker from Hu Kitchen.  Either type of cracker will work for this recipe.


Substitute coconut sugar with 1 ½ teaspoon of brown sugar or white sugar.


I typically use tamari, since it’s gluten-free, but you can substitute equal amounts of soy sauce or coconut aminos.

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