These delicious little meatballs are perfect for barbecuing or char-grilling. They also taste great cold, so pre-cook some and take them on a picnic or in your lunch box. These can also be prepared in advance then frozen – perfect to take for your first meal when you’re camping. The lettuce leaves, bean sprouts and mint leaves are easy to pack separately, but if that’s all too hard the meatballs are delicious on their own too. If you’re on the move with these meatballs, pack the lime dipping sauce in a small leak-proof container. To make them kid-friendly leave out the chilli, although they’re not really that spicy.
Serves 4 (makes 16-20 small meatblls)
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
6 cm piece lemongrass, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons finely chopped mint
3 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
Vietnamese lime sauce:
2 tablespoons fish sauce
½ small red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1 ½ tablespoons lime juice (or lemon, but the sauce won’t be as tangy)
1 teaspoon sugar
To serve: crisp lettuce leaves, 100 g bean sprouts and a handful mint leaves
Put the pork, chilli, lemongrass, garlic, fish sauce and chopped herbs in a bowl. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper then mix with your hands until the pork turns a paler pink, this helps the meatballs stick together. Form into 16-20 meatballs, then cover and chill for 30 minutes.
To make the Vietnamese lime sauce, put all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar.
Shortly before you’re ready to serve, arrange the lettuce leaves, bean sprouts and mint leaves on a serving plate.
Preheat a barbecue or chargrill pan to medium–hot. Cook the meatballs for 8–10 minutes, turning regularly, until just cooked through. Be careful not to overcook them, otherwise they will become dry. You can also thread the meatballs onto metal skewers to cook; for ease, thread four onto each skewer.
To serve, invite each guest to place a meatball in a lettuce leaf with some bean sprouts and mint. Spoon over a little of the sauce, then wrap up and eat. To make this a more substantial meal, serve some rice or noodles on the side.