With a holiday weekend on the approach that also marks the start of LSU football, it’s time to bust out those favorite small bites recipes. Yes, it’s small bites time, because who doesn’t love a perfectly flavored little pick-up that makes you go back for more?
These Vietnamese meatballs fit the bill. While bold, they’re surprisingly light, which makes them a nice fit for our Labor Day heat. Best yet, each bite is packed with that amazing interplay of flavors you love about Vietnamese cuisine—sweet, salty, savory and spicy. Fish sauce in the mix gives the meatballs an umami element, while fresh mint, basil and cilantro make it cool and refreshing. Scoop it into a leafy lettuce cup with fresh herbs and veggies, and don’t forget the dip of sweet chili sauce. Game on.
Vietnamese Meatballs in Lettuce Wraps
Servings: Makes about 18 meatballs
2 pounds ground turkey, chicken or pork
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 scallions, green and white parts sliced thin, to yield about 1/3 cup
1 head butter or leaf lettuce, washed and separated into leaves
For garnish: sliced cucumber and radishes; fresh mint, basil and cilantro
Sweet chili sauce for dipping
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the ground meat with the fish sauce, brown sugar, oil, garlic and chopped scallions. Roll into 1½-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. (You can also flatten into small patties and grill.) Remove from the cookie sheet and cool slightly.
Assemble the meatballs on a platter with the torn lettuce, herbs, vegetables and dipping sauce. Serve.
Maggie Heyn Richardson is a regular 225 contributor. Reach her at hungryforlouisiana.com.