Vietnamese meatballs (bò viên)

Our kids headed back to school for the first time this academic year. It had been exactly one year of unprecedent abruption in learning opportunities, both academically and socially. Yet, the kids faced these unfathomable problems with resilience and grace (and they managed to enjoy along the way!).

They could certainly teach us a thing or two.

Much love.

Vietnamese meatball (Bò viên)

(Adapted from Vanh Khuyen Le)

1.25 lb ground beef (semi-frozen)
3/4 tsp sugar
2 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs potato starch (or corn starch)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp whole black pepper (coarsely cracked)
35 g crushed ice
1 tsp kosher salt
1 shallot (peeled, cut into 2 or 3 pieces)

  1. Divide the ground beef into 2 equal portions.
  2. In a small bowl, combine sugar + fish sauce.
  3. In another small bowl, combine potato starch (or corn starch) + baking powder + ground pepper + cracked whole pepper
  4. Use a food processor to process one portion of ground beef + 1/2 mixture in step (2) for about 1 minute.
  5. Add 1/2 mixture in step (3) + crushed ice.
  6. Process for another 1-2 minutes. Set aside.
  7. Repeat for the 2nd portion of the ground beef.
  8. Finally, combine the two portions in the food processor and process for about 10 seconds to mix the meat.
  9. In a medium stockpot, boil 2 liters water + salt + shallot.
  10. Use your hand to make the beef mixture into small balls (about the size of a golf ball).
  11. Drop the meat balls into the boiling water.
  12. Once they float, leave them in the boiling water for a couple minutes, then drain and discard the water.
  13. Serve the meatballs as an appetizer with hoisin sauce + Sriracha chili sauce, or along side Vietnamese beef noodle soup.