Here is a recipe that I created to take the traditional Vietnamese Bánh Mì Sandwich and transform it into a little bite-sized morsel of flavor. I pickled cubes of daikon and slices of baby carrots to garnish the meatballs. The recipe for the pickling liquid is listed below. This recipe makes a large batch of 1-inch meatballs. I mixed up the pork sausage for the meatballs and cooked about half for a Super Bowl party and froze the rest (raw) in a ziplock bag for future use.
Meatballs: 1 lb. hot Italian sausage, removed from casings 1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings 3 slices of bacon, sliced lengthwise and finely chopped 3 T. sesame oil 1 onion, finely diced 3 garlic cloves, diced 1 c. breadcrumbs 2 eggs s+p 3/4 c. pickled carrots 3/4 c. pickled daikon radish 1 bunch of cilantro, washed and picked 1/2 c. mayonnaise Sriracha Thai hot sauce, to taste Pickling Liquid: 1 c. apple cider vinegar 1/2 c. rice wine vinegar 1/2 c. water 1/4 c. salt 1/4 c. sugar sprinkle of crushed red pepper 2 star anise 1 cinnamon stick 2 garlic cloves, smashed 1 T. black peppercorns
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl remove the sausages from their casings and combine ground pork, chopped bacon, sesame oil, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, eggs and s+p. Mix with hands until everything is incorporated. Make sure the breadcrumbs and eggs are evenly distributed so there aren't any dry crusty spots. Heat a small saute pan with a little drizzle of vegetable oil. Cook a small patty of the meatball mixture to taste for seasoning. Eat it and adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Mix through again. While meatballs are cooking in the oven, work on the pickled vegetables and garnish. Roll the meat into small 1-inch balls and place on a baking sheet. They will not grow as much as cookies do so try to line as many on the tray without touching. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown on the outside and cooked throughout. Cut into a meatball to test for doneness. Remove from the oven and set aside. For the vegetables, peel and chop the daikon into small cubes (macédoines, about 1 cm). Slice baby carrots into round discs or peel and chop carrots into cubes similar to the daikon. Heat the pickling liquid and pour over veg to pickle. * Follow instructions on pickling below. Heat pickling liquid in a small saucepan until it comes to a boil. Chop vegetables to preferred shape and size. Strain the pickling liquid through a sieve or chinoise and pour over the vegetables to cover completely. Allow the veg to sit at room temperature until the pickling liquid cools down to room temp. Strain the vegetables out of the pickling liquid and reserve the liquid for future pickling. Keep in the refrigerator. Wash and dry the cilantro leaves. Pick the leaves and set aside for garnish. If you're from the cilantro-hating school of thought and you think it tastes like your mama just washed your mouth out with soap, then feel free to skip this part or substitute another herb. I, however, love it! Mix the mayonnaise with a small bit of Sriracha Thai hot sauce, then test it. Add as much hot sauce as you would like until it becomes a beautiful spicy orange dipping sauce for the meatballs. To serve, put the Sriracha mayo in a dipping bowl or spread it evenly on the bottom of a plate. Using a toothpick, spear the pickled carrot first so the bright orange is on top, then the pickled daikon, cilantro leaf, and meatball. Plate the Vietnamese Bánh-Méatball hors d'œuvres on top of the sauce and serve. This recipe is the perfect blend of spicy, sweet, acidic, crunchy, fresh, and meaty pork goodness. Enjoy!