Vietnamese Meatballs

February 18, 2021

Vietnamese meatballs montage

So sometimes I find myself doing to two things: cleaning out the fridge and entertaining a craving. Lately I’ve been obsessed with meatballs. The other day I made a batch of Marcella Hazan’s famous Italian meatballs from her book “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking”. Today I was craving a meatball like you would get at a good Vietnamese Pho joint. So I stared digging in my pantry and the interwebs.

Vietnamese meatballs ingredients


  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 4 green onions(I ditched the tops, too wilted)
  • a couple garlic cloves
  • a fat knob of ginger(think 2 tablespoons chopped)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar

Vietnamese meatballs mix

Vietnamese meatballs rolled out

So really this started with a ton of cilantro and ginger that was doing my fridge no favors. That plus some green onions screamed to “Southeast Asian” to me. In the 90s I fell for the ground turkey phase. My wife still likes it. And I guess I do to as long as I can hit that stuff with everything plus the kitchen sink to flavor it up.

I tossed all of the ingredients into the bowl, saving the ground turkey for last. I let a spatula do most of the work but when I did get my hands in there, I got ’em good and wet so the meat mixture didn’t stick. I used an ice cream scoop to make my meatballs. They still ended up a little big but it all worked out.

After previously burning meatballs on what clearly are my worn out baking sheets, I reached for the cooking spray and tin foil. You don’t get the brown but you avoid the burn and the chirp from the smoke alarms. Our smoke alarms DRIVE US CRAZY.

Vietnamese meatballs cooked

20 minutes later in a  400 degree oven and you got some cooked meatballs. My Thermapen hit an internal temp of 179 degrees so definitely cooked through, but these also came out moist AF. I really didn’t have big plans for these when I made ’em so I reached for a familiar vessel: corn tortillas.

Vietnamese meatballs taco 1

I split the meatball and it was still plenty for a single taco. I told you I made ’em big. Now I also had some radishes sitting around and some pickled ginger from some takeout sushi awhile back. Both made it into the fold.

Vietnamese meatballs taco 1

I hit it with some Sriracha and down goes lunch. For something totally not planned out, I would eat these suckas again in a heartbeat. The double hit of fresh ginger in the meatball itself and the pickled ginger in the taco was damn good. And the spice of the raw radish worked wonders as well. Aggressive flavors all around, from the meatball to the toppings and condiments, played well together.

Call me Roy Choi because I think I just remixed two culinary continents. If only I had a DeLorean to take me back to 2008 and make a fortune. On second thought, I’ll stay in 2021, host a new season of Spring Baking Championship. and eat a few more of these tacos.

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