Vietnamese Meatball & Rice Bowls
After a long week of travel and client dinners, I crave a healthy, simple meal at home. Most of the time, all I want is some rice, dal, roasted vegetables, and some sort of protein. If I don’t have the ingredients for that, a big bowl with lots of healthy things will do the trick. I’ve been gravitating quite a bit towards Vietnamese food recently - there is something about the mixture of lemongrass, chilies, fish sauce and other aromatics that is truly unbeatable. Vietnamese food has the perfect balance of salty, sweet, spicy, savory - it’s so complex and so aromatic. I’ve shared my lemongrass pork chop recipes and waxed poetic about Vietnamese flavors.
This dish in particular comes together really quickly and is customizable. The little meat patties are very simply seasoned and you can pull them together in under 20 mins. The rest of the bowl is up to you! I opted for fresh vegetables in a light dressing, loads of fresh Thai basil and mint leaves, and some quick-sauteed mushrooms. You can use rice or noodles; I opted for this new chickpea flour rice I’m obsessed with, by Banza. It’s reminiscent of orzo in shape and texture and cooks in about 5 mins - it’s become a go-to for a quick meal! Drizzle everything with a little more dressing and dinner is served.
For the meat patties
1 lb ground turkey, chicken, or pork
1 lemongrass stalk
1 Fresno chili
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp oil
For the sauteed mushrooms
8 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tsp sesame oil
handful of mint leaves, torn
salt to taste
For the dressing
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp white wine vinegar or lime juice
For the rest of the bowl
1 serving cooked rice or noodles per person
1 English cucumber, sliced thinly
2 cups julienned carrots
Bunch of mint and Thai basil leaves, roughly chopped
While the meat is cooking, prepare the rice or noodles you will be using.
Prepare the meat patties. Separate the white from the green part of the lemongrass and discard the green. Bash the white part of the lemongrass stalk to release the flavors and dice finely. Similarly, finely mince the garlic and Fresno chili (remove the seeds if you don’t want it to be too spicy). In a bowl, mix in the ground meat, lemongrass, garlic, chili, and fish sauce. Form 12-16 meat patties.
Heat up a skillet on medium high heat and drizzle some oil. Wait for the oil to heat well and cook the patties in batches. Do not crowd the pan and do not move the patties. Cook the first side for 4 mins and cook the second for 3 mins. Set aside.
In the same pan, quickly sautee the mushrooms. Drizzle with some sesame oil and once its heated through, sautee the mushrooms for 6-8 mins. Once done, sprinkle with some salt and the handful of mint leaves.
Lastly, prepare the cucumbers, carrots, and dressing. Toss the cucumbers and carrots in 1/4 of the dressing.
Assemble the bowl to your liking. Drizzle with some more dressing and eat!