700 g fatty ground pork meat
½ cup shallots (finely chopped)
3 tbsp garlic (minced)
4 tsp sugar
3 tbsp fish sauce
1¼ tsp ground black pepper
5 tbsp short-grain glutinous rice
2 tsp garlic chili sauce
bamboo skewers (soaked for at least 30 min)
Nem means “minced pork”, while Nuong means “grilled”. Simply put, this Vietnamese dish is made with pork, which is skewered, and then grilled. Before grilling, the meat is usually marinated in a malty mixture of garlic, fish sauce, and sugar. Mimicking the convenience and taste of finger food like sausages and fish balls, the Vietnamese pork meatballs will entice everyone from kids to adults. With its bite-sized shape, this delightful dish can be enjoyed easily on-the-go. Its finely ground pork will be easy to chew, while its sugar content will give it a nice bite due to caramelization.
To keep the meatballs juicy and tender, ground pork with a relatively high-fat percentage is used to make them. With about 20 percent fatty meat encompassing the entire meat mixture, the Nem Nuong is always lip-smacking good. For those opting for a healthier version of this tantalizing dish, fret not! Leaner meats can be used. When using lean cut meats, it is recommended that different cuts of meat be mixed in with them to prevent the meatballs from getting dry. Mixing in a few strips of bacon, for example, would make for a marvelous lean to fatty meat ratio.
What is so special about the cooking method used for these pork meatballs? These pork meatballs are grilled and therein lies the beauty of this dish. Compared to other methods of cooking such as deep-frying, grilling is a healthy cooking method. This is because grilling uses less oil to cook the food. But what about all the lard present in the pork itself? Well, the heat from the grill will melt off most of the fat found naturally in pork. Moreover, due to its relatively high heat, cooking on the grill reduces the cooking time. This not only traps the flavors of the marinade and the meat but also retains the nutrients found in the fresh ingredients, giving you the best of both worlds.
Therefore, instead of opting for ready-made appetizers filled with preservatives that line the frozen foods aisle, opt for this simple, easy-to-follow Nem Nuong recipe. It will make 40 springy and lean meatballs for your entire family!
Frequently Asked Questions about Nem Nuong
1. Is grilling the only cooking method?
Definitely not! Though traditionally grilled, you could throw them into a deep or air fryer to get some golden-brown caramelization on each ball. Baking and then broiling the meatballs will also give it a beautiful golden brown color. Barbecuing also gives the Nem Nuong a very nice char and a distinctive smoky taste.
2. What do I serve the meatballs with?
The meatballs can be eaten on its own or served with a source of carbohydrate. There are two popular serving methods. Firstly, you could serve them with rice paper wrappers. Wrap the meatballs up with some vegetables and rice vermicelli and serve with a side of peanut dipping sauce. You could line the ingredients up and have family and friends create their own wraps.
A second alternative is to serve the meatballs in a bowl filled with vegetables and a bed of rice noodles. This will create a well-balanced healthy meal for all.
3. My meatballs are falling apart when grilling. What can I do?
You could steam the meat for a few minutes before grilling them. This will allow the meatballs to hold its shape.
Tips & Tricks to Serve Up a Fiery Plate of Kam Heong Clams
1. Marinate the meat overnight: Marinating the pork overnight will allow it to soak up the flavors of the marinade, infusing every bit of meat with its delicious goodness. This will pull the entire dish together.
2. Different shapes and sizes: Rolling the meat into balls is simple. However, if you decide to take things up a notch, roll them into a sausage shape or any other shape you desire.
3. Make a dipping sauce: There are two popular sauces that the meatballs can be dipped in. The Nuoc Cham sauce is traditionally used when dipping the meatballs wrapped in rice paper. To make this sauce, pound some garlic, chili, and sugar. Stir in some lime juice, vinegar, fish sauce, and water to have yourself a quick and easy dipping sauce.
Recipe: How to Make a Batch of Divine Pork Meatballs
Serve warm or at room temperature.