Happy TGIF, Dear Readers! I hope that, unlike me, you find yourself with boundless energy for your upcoming weekend adventures. Things are a bit fuzzy around the edges chez Opera Girl on Day 2 of Sneezefest 2013. After staving off every virus that’s hit these parts in the last few months, I’ve finally succumbed to a head cold.
I sure earned this one, though! Presidents’ Day Weekend brought a raucous, fun-filled trip to the snow. Last Friday afternoon, we piled into Jason’s truck and left the Bay Area to spend a few days in South Lake Tahoe.
Today, I’d like to share a couple recipes from a dinner we enjoyed on our second night at the cabin: Vietnamese-inspired rice plates, featuring turkey meatballs and a spiced-up version of Nuoc Cham dipping sauce. Made with ground turkey breast, the meatballs were tender and full of flavor. With Italian-American meatball technique (breadcrumbs and eggs kept the super-lean meat from drying out) and a Vietnamese-y roster of ingredients including fish sauce and lemongrass, they made for some awesome fusion cuisine.
And of course, any Vietnamese rice plate demands a few spoonfuls of Nước chấm, a classic Vietnamese dipping sauce. Basic recipes include fish sauce, lemon juice, sugar, and water, but here I’ve added chili peppers, onions, garlic, and cilantro to spice things up.
While the meatballs are baking, steam some Jasmine rice and throw together a quick pickle of julienned cucumbers and carrots. Next, shred a small head of iceberg lettuce and assemble your Nước chấm (one great feature of this sauce is that there’s no cooking required). Served family style, you’ve got an easy meal to serve a hungry crowd.
Vietnamese Meatballs (printer-friendly version)
makes 24 two-inch meatballs
1. Heat the oven to 400F. Brush a baking sheet with one tablespoon of the vegetable oil.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except remaining vegetable oil. Using your hands or a large spoon, mix the ingredients together until everything is evenly combined.
3. Shape the mixture into meatballs approximately 2 inches in diameter. Place them on the oiled cookie sheet, patting them down slightly. Brush the meatballs with the remaining vegetable oil.
4. Bake on the middle rack in the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the heat up to broil, then let the meatballs cook for about 5 more minutes, until the tops are lightly browned.
Spicy Nước chấm
makes about 2 cups of sauce
1/3 C. fish sauce
1/2 C. organic cane sugar
1/2 C. water
juice of 2 large limes
1 Serrano pepper, seeded and finely diced
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1/3 C. diced red onion
3 small green onions, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, grated on a fine microplane
1. Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl.