Asian Meatballs with Rice Noodles

Asian meatballs

I am truly enamored of the palette of flavors found in dishes from Asia, especially Vietnam. It seems that even as you’re eating the food, the flavors change and deepen in your mouth. These Asian-style meatballs are a great example of that.

I got this recipe right on the first try, which is really unusual. I typically taste test something and immediately start thinking about how to make it better. Not this time. The sauce reminds me of the kinds of flavors you get in a good Vietnamese pho, but combined with the silky texture of a French demi glace sauce.

The key is to char some onions and ginger and add that to a cup or so of beef stock to make a base, which is further flavored with soy sauce, garlic, star anise and cinnamon.  The aroma as that sauce cooks down and the meatballs simmer in it — just amazing.

While I made these meatballs for dinner, you could make some smaller ones for a nice small plate or for appetizers, with or without the rice noodles.

Asian Meatballs with Rice Noodles

Asian Meatballs with Rice Noodles


1 lb. lean ground beef

1/2 lb. ground pork

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 large egg

1/2 cup minced onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp. salt

black pepper, to taste

1 cup beef cooking stock

1 3 to 4 inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced lengthwise

1 small onion, quartered

1 cinnamon stick

1 Tbsp fish sauce

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 star anise pods (about 10 seeds)

1 package prepared demiglace


    Combine ground meat, bread crumbs, egg, minced onion, half the garlic, salt and pepper and mix well.

    Shape meat into meatballs about an inch and a half in diameter and place on a cookie sheet.

    Refrigerate while you prepare the sauce.

    In a small saucepan, heat cooking stock to a low simmer.

    Put ginger and quartered onion on another cooking sheet and place in a 425F over until the onion has charred edges and ginger is very brown.

    Add the onion and ginger to the stock, along with soy sauce cinnamon stick, fish sauce, star anise and remaining garlic.

    Simmer for about 20-30 minutes

    In a large saute pan, brown the meatballs in a little peanut (or other high-temperature) oil.

    Strain the cooking stock and add to the saute pan with the meatballs.

    Simmer until meatballs are cooked through, about 10-15 minutes, turning periodically to coat all sides of the meatballs with the sauce.

    When the meatballs are cooked, stir in the demiglace to thicken the sauce.

    Serve immediately over rice or rice noodles.

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