Bahn Mi't Balls

Pork Bahn Mi’t Balls

Pork Banh Mi’t Balls are Vietnamese flavored meatballs that make the perfect appetizer for any event. Made with DIY home ground meat, these meatballs pack all the flavors of a Banh Mi Sandwich into a single bite.

Banh Mi? I Hardly Even Know Me!

Well your existential crises aside, let’s talk about Vietnamese food! Actually, let’s talk about the French occupation of Indochina from 1887-1954.

OMG That Sounds BORING!

Yeah, Yeah. History can be fun! Basically the French occupied Vietnam for well over half a century and usually when an occupying force holds a territory the soldiers bring their own food to that land. In this case they brought baguettes, and when 2 cultures merge cuisines, everyone wins. Don’t believe me? Just try Korean Tacos, Pork Loco Moco Mazeman (Spicy Pork Ramen), or Mochiko Chicken. Basically, Banh Mi is a sandwich made of Vietnamese flavored meat or tofu, cilantro, and other veggies inside a baguette. If you’ve never had one, you are missing out.

For Christmas last year, I was looking for the perfect thing to make for an appetizer. It’s my first real year blogging and I decided that whatever I picked had to be a real showstopper, and Christmas at my aunt’s house is actually a pretty extravagant affair, so it had to be REALLY good.

I spent a day or so poring through through all the big sites. and browsing their christmas articles. Everything seemed kind of lame and then my ADHD kicked in and I just started clicking around. I found this recipe for a Pork Banh Mi on Epicurious and then a lightbulb popped up above my head. Turn this recipe into a bite sized banh mi on a stick without the bread. I call them Banh Mi’t Balls.

OK I’m Sold. Banh Mi, Baby!

Alright! Let’s do this!. The original recipe makes enough for 4 sandwiches and that is no where near enough to feed a party, especially considering we won’t be using any bread. I doubled the sauce and meat, which makes about 50-60 meatballs. The good thing is this recipe scales REALLY well so you can multiply it to your heart’s content!

First thing’s first, we need ground pork. You COULD just go out and buy ground pork but I’m gonna teach you how to do it at home. If I have the opportunity, I always ground my own meat.

Why Should I Grind My Own Meat?

Ok. So when you buy ground beef from the store, you get a hodgepodge of trimmings, ends, and generally unwanted cuts of meat. The big brands will even add things like cellulose (sawdust) to the mixture. Grinding your own meat means you get fluffy, rich meatballs and burgers that actually taste like rich meat. You can also contain the amount of fat in your patty and you also know that your meat comes from 1 animal, not whatever random parts that the factory didn’t want.

Hmm So How Do I Grind My Own Meat?

Now here’s the thing. Grinding your own meat is super easy! Do you have a kitchen aid stand mixer? Of course you do! You probably got one for a wedding gift and its been sitting on your counter collecting dust. Well did you know it’s a versatile little thing? Kitchen Aid also sells a meat grinder attachment.

Meat Grinder

This is actually a vintage meat grinder attachment made by kitchen aid. They don’t sell it anymore in its metal incarnation and we managed to find this stainless steel gem at a garage sale. I’ll get to why I prefer it over plastic in a sec but let’s talk about how to use it. There’s a metal plate on the front of your Kitchen Aid with a little knob on the right. Twist it and the plate will come off. The hole in the front is where you’ll be affixing your grinder attachment.

For this recipe I started with a 2 pound pork loin. Using a sharp knife, cut that loin into 2 inch cubes. The size of the cubes doesn’t really matter, just make sure it’s small enough to fit in the hole. The next step is to cool the meat down a bit so it grinds well. Put the chunks in an airtight container and then freeze it for 30 minutes. This chills the fat and keeps it from getting mushy, giving you a better grind. Lastly, to get an even better grind we should also freeze the grinder as well. This is why I like a metal one as it holds the cold better than plastic and for that reason I say you should pick up this one.

Once the 30 minutes of chilling time are up, you’ll have to move quickly to make sure the grinder remains cold. Attach it to the Kitchen Aid, and turn it on at speed setting 4. Toss your meat cubes into the hopper in small batches and push them through using the tamper included with the grinder. After all this is done, you should have a bowl filled with 2 pounds of beautiful, fluffy, ground meat.

Next, we have to flavor the meat. Add the basil, garlic, scallions, fish sauce, sriracha, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and pepper, and mix it all up with your hands. At this point, you can refrigerate the meat to make the next day.

When you are ready to start frying the meatballs, you should first start pickling the veggies. Using a mandolin slicer, cut the daikon and carrots to a thickness of 3 millimeters. Most mandolins allow you to do this, but it may also be referred to as “medium”.

Wait WTF Is A Daikon?

Good question! A daikon is an asian white radish that has a much more delicate flavor than a western radish and is also massive compared to western radishes. Actually, its name in both Chinese and Japanese translates to “big radish”. You can find them in Asian stores, some green grocers, and Whole Foods. For this recipe, find the skinniest one you can.

Daikon

Anyway, slice the carrots and daikon 3 millimeters thick. Slice one for each meatball which should be about 50-60. If you have extra, you could always put it in a salad! Next, we’re going to quick pickle these veggies. Pour 2/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar, 2/3 cup of white sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt into a large glass bowl. Stir to mix well and add the veggies. Let it stand at room temperature for an hour.

While that’s happening, it’s time to make the sriracha-mayo sauce. For this recipe I used Kewpie mayonnaise (Pronounced Kew-pee-eh). Western mayo is usually made with white vinegar or lemon juice, while kewpie is made with rice vinegar and is smoother in taste and texture. Mix together 1 1/3 cups kewpie, 2 tablespoons of sriracha and 4 finely chopped scallions. Stir together well and refrigerate until you are ready.

Lastly, use a tablespoon measure to portion 1 meat ball and roll it up with moistened hands into a nice ball making sure not to pack it too tightly. Place the meatball onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Wax paper is really optional, but it helps keep things neat. Repeat the process until you are out of meat.

At this point we are ready to start cooking!

Preheat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough sesame oil to line the bottom of the pan and heat for an additional minute. In batches, fry the meatballs until cooked through and browned on all sides (about 5 minutes per side). Transfer to a paper towel and let the meatballs rest. Repeat the process until all the balls are cooked.

Lastly, we need to assemble the whole thang. Top 1 meatball with a dab of sriracha-kewpie sauce and add a slice of daikon, slice of carrot, and leaf of cilantro. Stab the whole thing with a toothpick to hold it together. Repeat until they’re all done. At this point you can put them into a a sealed container to reheat later and when you’re ready to serve, just put them in the oven at 350ºF for 5 minutes. Serve with the leftover sauce on the side for dipping.

Phew I got a through the whole post without making a joke about balls.

DAS A LOT OF BALLS!!!

Dammit.

Currently Jamming To

All About That Bass on an upright bass.

This recipe requires a little something special. Here’s a list of what you will need:

Bahn Mi't Balls
Pork Bahn Mi't Balls
Pork Bahn Mi't Balls are the perfect appetizer for Super Bowl Sunday, Christmas, or whatever dinner you have planned.
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For The Meatballs
  1. 2 Pounds of Home Ground Pork (store bought is OK but not ideal)
  2. 1/2 Cup of Finely Chopped Fresh Basil
  3. 8 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  4. 6 Scallions, Minced
  5. 2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
  6. 2 Tablespoons Sriracha
  7. 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  8. 4 Teaspoons Cornstarch
  9. 2 Teaspoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  10. 2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
For the Pickled Vegetables
  1. 50-70 3mm Slices Peeled Skinny Daikon
  2. 50-70 3mm Slices Peeled Carrot
  3. 1/3 Cup Unseasoned Rice Vinegar
  4. 1/3 Cup Sugar
  5. 1 1/2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
For The Sriracha-Mayo Sauce
  1. 1 1/3 Cup Kewpie Mayonnaise
  2. 4 Scallions, Minced
  3. 2 Tablespoons Sriracha
  4. 50-60 Cilantro Leaves
For The Sriracha Mayo Sauce
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together mayonnaise, scallions, and sriracha.
For The Pickled Vegetables
  1. In a large glass bowl, whisk together together vinegar, sugar, and kosher salt.
  2. Add the sliced carrots and daikon and soak for one hour.
For The Meatballs
  1. If using store bought ground meat you can skip the first two steps. Cut pork loin into 2 inch cubes. Seal in an airtight container and put it in the freezer along with the Kitchen Aid meat grinder attachment. Chill for 30 minutes.
  2. Moving quickly, affix the grinder attachment to the front of the mixer and turn it on to speed setting 4. Toss the meat into the grinder and use the pusher to push down the meat. Continue until all the meat is ground.
  3. Add the basil, garlic, scallions, fish sauce, sriracha, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and pepper to the ground meat and mix well with your hands. At this point you can cover it and refrigerate it overnight if you wish.
  4. Lay out wax paper on a cookie sheet or other flat surface. Measure a table spoon of the meat mixture and with moistened hands roll into a loosely packed ball. Repeat until the meat is used up.
  5. Heat a large cast iron or other heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough sesame oil to line the bottom of the pan and heat through for a minute.
  6. Cook the meatballs in batches until cooked through and browned on each side. (About 10 minutes)
  7. Transfer to a paper towel and let rest while you cook the rest.
  8. Put a dollop of sriracha-mayo on top of each meatball. Next add a slice of pickled daikon and then a slice of pickled carrot. Top with 1 leaf of cilantro.
  9. Before serving reheat the meatballs in at 350ºF for 5 minutes. Serve with extra sauce on the side for dipping.
Notes
  1. Meat can be ground and seasoned a day ahead and refrigerated, covered, overnight.
Adapted from Epicurious
Adapted from Epicurious
Nomageddon http://nomageddon.com/

41 comments on “Pork Bahn Mi’t Balls

  1. February 3, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    You writing is fantastic and you led into your recipes wonderfully. I have to commend you and that recipe would be an amazing appetizer at any event. Game day or other.

    • February 3, 2016 at 12:28 pm

      Thank you so much, Ginny!

  2. February 3, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    Totally up my alley! I love history and politics, and I love bahn mi sandwiches! 😀 Never have I had it in meatball form but yeah, I’m in!

    • February 4, 2016 at 9:59 pm

      I love it too! I love finding out the histories of food. Like, for example did you know the Japanese word for bread is “pan” because Portuguese traders introduced it in the 1500s?

  3. February 3, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    Here is another great game day appetizer! Excited to try it out! Thanks!

  4. February 3, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    What a great recipe! As a history major, I must say that history is NEVER boring. I love it. I don’t use my degree but it sure was fun learning about it all 😉

  5. February 4, 2016 at 1:02 am

    This post made me laugh (Wait WTF Is A Daikon?). Very good, recipe goods great.

    • February 4, 2016 at 9:48 pm

      😛

  6. February 4, 2016 at 7:57 am

    Ok, I am sold now on grinding my own meat. I actually do it without the attachment in my food processor for the lamb in my Middle Eastern recipes sometimes. That attachment would make life easier.
    Your meatballs look amazing! These would be the hit of any party! And now I want to try a Bahn Mi sandwich as well!

    • February 4, 2016 at 9:47 pm

      Michelle, I’ve done it both ways. I’ve made burgers with a food processor and its not an airy, juicy patty you get. It’s kind of like a dense meat mush. Real grinder all the way! And you haven’t lived till you’ve had a bahn mi. Check out the original recipe I adapted it from or hit up your local Vietnamese place!

  7. February 4, 2016 at 11:49 am

    The attachments for my kitchen aid are lifesavers! I want them all, including the meat grinder one. Next year we will be raising several of our own animals and I look forward to the grinder to help process this meat.

  8. February 4, 2016 at 11:53 am

    I love everything about this recipe, from the grinding of your own meat (I do so whenever possible, and agree that it really does make a huge difference!), to the pickled Daikon, and the layers of flavor in each element. Beautiful presentation and sounds perfect for entertaining!

  9. February 4, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    Love these bite size! Simply YUMMY and gorgeous photography !

    • February 4, 2016 at 9:27 pm

      Thank you, Mahy!

  10. February 4, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    Now I have Meat Grinder Envy – my attachment is plastic. (I also have an old manual metal one – and honestly I sometimes use it to get a better grind!)

    And fusion food is so good. I’m in New York, with people from all over the world adapting their cuisine to local ingredients, and coming up with gems. Love it! (And those meatballs sounds wonderful.)

    • February 4, 2016 at 9:26 pm

      Anne, I live in New York too! The culinary combinations are amazing!

  11. February 5, 2016 at 8:46 am

    I love a good bahn mi, these little meatballs sound amazing and I think you’ve just convinced me to finally get the meat grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid!

  12. February 5, 2016 at 11:21 am

    What a great recipe! And I love the idea of fresh grinding the meat at home for all the reasons you mentioned! I am gonna save this to try later.

    • February 5, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      Chris, I love home grinding and I honestly find it kind of sad that we HAVE to. But hey, that’s the meat industry for ya.

  13. February 5, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    I got a meat grinder attachment for Christmas and have been looking for reasons to use it. I just found one!!

    • February 5, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Erin, meat grinders are the best! If you’re making burgers, the ground meat you get at the store is almost always tightly packed in the styrofoam and plastic that the burgers you get are so dense and certainly do not melt in your mouth. Don’t even get me started on those pre formed patties. Blech. Grind the meat yourself and pack your patties lightly…best burgers ever. If you’re doing burgers start with chuck steak, not roast which is too tough, and follow the same procedure as I did in this recipe but make patties. Happy grinding!

  14. February 5, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    What a great idea. These meatballs looks amazing.

  15. February 5, 2016 at 11:52 pm

    Love pretty much everything about this recipe (and I was a political science major, so I like the history part, too)! What a great app. And thanks for the tip: didn’t know there was a meat grinder attachment for the Kitchenaid!

  16. February 6, 2016 at 3:20 am

    What a great appetizer for game day! Those meatballs look so great since they were put through the meat grinder!

  17. February 6, 2016 at 9:05 am

    The perfect recipe for game day!! My family would love these.

  18. February 6, 2016 at 9:36 am

    These meatballs look amazing! Your photography is beautiful too!

  19. February 7, 2016 at 11:21 am

    These little bites are seriously one of the best things I’ve seen all day! I don’t know if I could eat them. I would just want to stare at them all day!

    • February 7, 2016 at 2:12 pm

      Justine, They taste better than they look ;). Try em out!

  20. February 7, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Sounds fantastic – and I love the brief history lesson too. I love that you ground your own meat too. I’ve been playing with the idea of getting a meat grinder myself and this is convincing me!

  21. February 7, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    What a nifty idea for party food. I’m sure these are going to be a hit with meat lovers! 🙂

  22. February 7, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    Haha, this is the most hilarious blog post for a recipe I have read in a while 🙂 Love the play on words, and love the sound of these M’it Balls! Delicious 🙂

    • February 8, 2016 at 12:45 pm

      🙂 Thank you, Donna!

  23. February 8, 2016 at 2:43 am

    These sound incredible. Do you think I can make this with ground chicken instead of pork ? We don’t do pork anymore so I’m wondering if maybe chicken would work ..?

    • February 8, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Absolutely! I’d say use boneless chicken thighs!

  24. February 8, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    What a unique recipe. I am intrigued with the flavor combinations. It sounds wonderful.

    • February 8, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      🙂

  25. February 8, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    I love a bahn mi sandwich. I also have a grinder that I have not used yet but you have inspired me to do so.

    • February 8, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Yes! Peter bust out that meat grinder and make something awesome!

  26. February 9, 2016 at 4:15 am

    I love your writing! and this recipe sounds delicious!

    • February 9, 2016 at 2:45 pm

      Thank you!

  27. February 9, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    These looks SOOOO Pretty n Delicious & I dont think I can stop at one 😉 Great recipe.

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