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Vietnamese Chicken Meatballs



I have had a serious craving for bun - if you eat Vietnamese food, you know what I'm talking about. A bowl with crisp, shredded romaine lettuce, cold rice noodles, lots of chopped dry roasted peanuts, fresh mint and cilantro, shredded carrots, cucumbers and some sort of sticky, sweet bbq meat that you pour nuoc chom over and then scarf it all down like a maniac because it's so refreshingly delicious that you can't stand it??
Okay, if you don't eat Vietnamese food and don't know what I'm talking about, go find some.
Honestly.

So my quest today was to make some but I didn't feel like tackling the bbq pork today but The Kid loves meatballs so I thought I would whip up some sort of Vietnamese meatballs out of ground chicken and do a kind of Bun Ga Nuong. The only thing I was worried about was the sticky, caramelized glaze on the outside when I found this recipe on the Food and Wine web site.  It's from a cook book called Small Bites by Jennifer Joyce and although I am not interested in doing the lettuce wraps right now, these little meatball sounded perfect. I didn't really alter the recipe at all, although I cooked them for 20 minutes and next time I will stick to her 15 minute recommendation. Full of the right flavours and the sugar coating gave it the sticky, sweet mojo that I love so much about Vietnamese bbq meat.


Joyce's Vietnamese Chicken Meatballs
adapted from Joyce's Vietnamese Chicken Meatballs

1 lb ground chicken
3 tbls fish sauce
1/2 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, tender white inside part only, minced
3-4 tbls chopped cilantro
1 tbls chopped mint
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp kosher salt
few grinds of fresh black pepper
granulated sugar for rolling the meatballs, about 1/4 cup

mix the chicken with rest of the ingredients except for the sugar in a large bowl. Mix together thoroughly but gently because if you overwork the meat, your meatballs will be tough.
Using slightly damp hands, roll the mixture into golf ball sized meatballs, put on a plate and let them sit in the fridge for half an hour or so - I found the mixture a bit wet but it set up perfectly after a rest in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 400F
Take the meatballs out of the fridge and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll each meatball lightly in the sugar and place on the parchment.
Bake the meatballs in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes, giving the pan a shake a few times to make sure you get even browning.

You can do anything with these little meatballs. They would be great as lettuce wraps (like the original recipe), in a Thai inspired sub, on rice, you could dip them in sweet chili sauce, they would even be great in soup. I can't wait to

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