In Vietnam, there is no distinction between breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some dishes that Westerners would normally eat for lunch or dinner, would also be eaten for breakfast. One of those dishes is Vietnamese meatballs or Xiu Mai. Contrary to what Westerners may think, this is a very popular breakfast food in Vietnam. Xiu Mai is made with a mixture of pork, shrimp and chopped-up jicama. The jicama provides a very subtle crunch to the meatballs, as well as serves as one of the components to keeping the meatballs moist. The meat balls are seared on a hot pan, then braised in a flavorful tomato sauce.
You can eat these meatballs in a baguette (Banh Mi Xiu Mai) with cilantro, cucumber and pickled vegetables. You can also eat it alongside a baguette. Simply tear a piece of the baguette and dip it into a warm bowl of Xiu Mai meatballs and all their juices. It's a tasty and hearty breakfast for a long day ahead.
Vietnamese Meatballs (Xiu Mai) Recipe
For the meatballs:
- 1/2 lb shrimp (peeled, deveined, minced)
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon cooking wine
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon pork seasoning powder
- Half yellow or white onion (minced)
- Half cup of jicama (peel, mince, microwave, then squeeze out excess water)
- 2 slices of bread (cubed and soaked in 1/2 cup milk)
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Combine everything together and roll the meat into golf-size balls.
- In a large pan, generously coat with vegetable oil and heat on high.
- Sear the meatballs until brown on all sides. You may need to do this in batches to prevent overcrowding. You do not need to cook the meatballs all the way through at this point.
- Remove meatballs from pan and drain them on a plate lined with paper towels.
- Remove excess oil from pan but leave the brown bits at the bottom of the pan.
For the sauce:
- 1 can of chicken stock
- 2 cans diced tomatoes
- 1 large yellow onion (diced)
- 1 can tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pork seasoning powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- De-glaze the pan that was used to fry the meatballs by adding the remaining chicken stock and using a wooden spoon to scrap up the brown bits.
- Add the diced tomatoes, diced onions, tomato paste, sugar, seasoning powder, and salt.
- Stir until combined.
- Add the seared meatballs.
- Cook for 15 minutes. Then serve with toasted French baguette.