Those who subscribe to SBS Food’s e-newsletter will have seen that I am their latest Featured Foodie! What a honour it is to be able to share my culinary journey with such a respected publication. In a sequence of interview questions, I talk about how my cultural heritage has influenced my cooking, which chef inspired me in my youth, what family recipe I most like to cook and more. Click to read the interview.
Coinciding with SBS’s feature this month on their guide to pork, I was also asked to share a pork recipe.
Since I had eaten xíu mại (Vietnamese meatballs) for breakfast twice during the week, I chose this dish, and took the opportunity to measure and properly write up my Dad’s family recipe.
Like many family recipes, the end product is the result of decades of fine tuning and intuition. It is so exciting that this recipe has now been documented and can be shared and cherished by everybody beyond my family roots.
The name of this dish may sound like the Chinese dumpling you order at yum cha, but it’s actually very different. The Vietnamese Xíu Mại are pork meatballs, often served in a light tomato sauce for dipping with a hot French bread roll, or inside a Banh Mi sandwich with cucumber, pickled daikon, shredded carrot, a few sprigs of coriander and if you like, chopped birds eye chillies.
If you own a copy of my book, I Ate My Way Through Singapore & Vietnam, flip to page 108 in the chapter ‘Cafes on the Streets of Ho Chi Minh City‘ to savour xíu mại and other street foods from Vietnam.
Bring a taste of Vietnam to your table and try this much cherished recipe.
1kg pork mince
15g black fungus, rehydrated and chopped coarsely
30g water chestnuts, chopped coarsely
1½ large onions, diced
1½ tbsp sesame oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pinch of salt
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp corn flour
5 tbsp tomato sauce
1 tsp sugar
½ cup water
2 tbsp corn flour mixed with ¼ cup cold water
Sauté onions with a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil. When done, set aside to cool.
Once the onion has cooled, combine all the meatball ingredients and mix well.
Roll the mixture into meatballs, about 4cm in diameter. You should be able to make about 30 meatballs.
Cook the meatballs in manageable batches of 5 – 10. Steam for either 15 – 20 minutes or place loosely in a deep plate or bowl, add 5mm of water and microwave for 3 minutes on high.
To prepare the sauce, combine the tomato sauce with sugar and ½ cup water in a saucepan. Bring to boil then quickly add the corn flour mixture. Simmer for a minute or less and serve immediately over the meatballs.
Serving suggestion: Serve with a garnish of coriander and a few drops of Maggi Seasoning plus a hot French bread roll.
Tip: These freeze really well so double the portions and freeze away!