Sometimes I get amazed at how the addition of one ingredient can change up a dish. I was making Nem Nuong and Nem Nuong Cuon (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patty and Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patty Salad Rolls) as usual when I decided to add in some minced scallions to the mix. The green scallions added a bright freshness to the meatballs.
I've made Nem Nuong Xa (Vietnamese Lemongrass Grilled Pork Patties), which obviously would taste different since lemongrass is quite strong. I guess I didn't expect green onions to have such an impact. Total game changer. Why had this never occurred to me before?
I ate some of the nem nuong wrapped in rice paper, but made up a noodle bowl for the rest. I added some Cha Gio Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Egg/Spring Rolls) since I had those on hand, which actually worked out well since the vegetarian egg rolls offset the amount of meat I was eating.
Just a simple adjustment to an old recipe, but definitely a big difference in flavor.
Nem Nuong Hanh La (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patties with Scallions)
For about 2 dozen nem nuong patties, about 4 servings, you'll need:
2 lbs ground pork
1 medium onion, pureed
About half a dozen cloves of garlic, finely minced
4 scallions, finely minced
2 tblsps sugar
2 tblsps Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
Optional: Substitute honey for the sugar if you want a better aroma and flavor, but sugar works just fine. Also, you can add 1 tblsp cornstarch if you want the meat to have a firmer consistency. Grind your own pork if you want to cut down the fat and for a firmer consistency as well. Substitute one pound of ground turkey for half of the pork in the recipe if you want to make this leaner.
This amount makes about 24 patties of 2 inches round, 1/2 inch thick. Plan on 2 patties per roll, 3 rolls per person. Or more, obviously, if you've got a bigger appetite than mine.
Traditionally, the recipe is made by grinding your own pork, but I buy pre-ground pork for ease. Some people add in extra fat to make the meatballs juicy, but I add the pureed onion for juiciness and to cut down on some of the fat. If you use a food processor to do all the grinding, this recipe comes together in a jiffy.
Puree 1 medium onion until almost liquified. Strain out the excess liquid and add the onion to the bowl. Grind half a dozen or more cloves of garlic and about 4 scallions. Add 2 tblsps sugar, 2 tblsps fish sauce, 1 tsp salt, and1 tsp ground black pepper.
Mix thoroughly. Pop a small chunk of the mixture into the microwave for 30 seconds and taste. The meatballs should be a bit sweet and savory. Adjust seasonings if necessary. If you think the mixture is too loose, you can also add 1 tblsp of cornstarch to help bind the ground meat better.
Wrap plastic around a plate before making the meatballs. I find it easier to slide them off that way. Wash your hands and shape the meatballs into small patties, about 2 inches in diameter. You can also put them in the freezer to firm up a bit if you're not cooking them right away.
Grill if you'd like.
Or pan-fry them.
Give a few minutes on each side for the meatballs to cook.
Juicy, delicious nem nuong.
Wrap in rice paper, or make Bun Nem Nuong (Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli Noodles with Ground Pork Patties).
Other Vietnamese meatball recipes:
Nem Nuong and Nem Nuong Cuon (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patty and Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patty Salad Rolls)
Nem Nuong Xa (Vietnamese Lemongrass Grilled Pork Patties)
Xiu Mai (Vietnamese Meatballs)
1 year ago today, Banh Cuon Hai Nam Saigon - Alhambra.
2 years ago today, Spruce Tree House - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado.
3 years ago today, Arkansas traveler tomatoes from my garden.
4 years ago today, Heirloom Tomato Salad.