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Pork Meatballs and Aromatic Broth

This recipe is inspired by the flavor of Vietnamese Pho, and is heavily centered around rich aromatics and allowing plenty of time to develop flavors.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time6 hrs
Total Time6 hrs 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Servings: 10

Ingredients

  • 10 oz thin rice noodles

Aromatic Broth

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp peppercorns
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 star anise
  • 5 inch in piece of ginger cut into large segments
  • 1 head of garlic cut in half
  • 1 bunch of green onions cut in half (tops saved for later)
  • 1 large shallot quartered
  • 1 yellow onion quartered
  • 1 leek green top removed, quartered
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce

Pork Meatballs

  • Makes 30 meatballs
  • 3 lb ground pork
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp coconut sugar or white sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup mint chopped and loosely packed
  • 2-3 clove minced garlic or 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh grated ginger or 3 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp white pepper
  • 2-3 tsp lemongrass paste or fresh finely chopped
  • Oil for cooking
  • 1-2 heads of baby bok choy roughly chopped (thick, white stalk discarded)

Sides

  • Jalapeno
  • Fresh mint and basil
  • Shredded carrot
  • Chili oil
  • Green onion

Instructions

Broth

  • Place all aromatics (onion, shallot, green onion, garlic, leeks, and gingeflat onto a baking sheet. Broil on high for 5 minutes—they will brown and char slightly which is great, but beware of setting them on fire.
  • Meanwhile, heat a large pot on medium heat: add in coriander, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, and star anise. Allow the spices to warm and become fragrant for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • When spices are fragrant and aromatics are broiled, combine in large pot, bring heat to medium-high, and add about 4 liters of water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and bring broth to a simmer and cover with a lid. Simmer for 4-5 hours, checking occasionally.
  • After broth has reduced, strain out all spices and aromatics using a large colander. Set strained broth aside in a large pot or bowl until you’re ready to cook the meatballs.

Meatballs

  • In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for the meatballs: pork, grated ginger, garlic, fish sauce, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, green onion, mint, and lemongrass. Mix thoroughly with your hands.
  • On a parchment-lined baking sheet, scoop 3 Tbsp meat and form into a compact ball with your hands. Flatten the ball slightly into a small patty shape before placing on the parchment sheet. Repeat until all the pork is used.
  • After your broth has simmered and reduced for 4-5 hours, you can begin to prepare to cook your meatballs—you’ll want the broth ready to add to the Dutch oven while it is still relatively hot, in order to deglaze the bottom.
  • Heat a large Dutch oven, on medium heat and add in 1/3 cup of olive oil. When oil is shimmery and fluid (like water), but not smoking and burning, add in your meatball patties—keep track of which ones you place in first! Allow each meatball to cook for 3 minutes, then flip using tongs or a small spatula and cook for another 2 1/2 minutes. The meatballs will turn golden brown on each side. Make sure you allow them to sit in the oil to cook and naturally release from the pan before attempting to flip. Repeat this process until all meatballs are cooked.
  • Keep all fat and brown bits at the bottom of the pan, as it will be used to flavor the broth. Place your meatballs on a platter and reserve any liquid and fat that they release—this will also be used to flavor the broth.
  • While your Dutch oven is still hot, pour in your broth, and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon. Bring the broth to a simmer on medium heat, and add in 1/4 cup fish sauce, 1 tsp salt, and allow to reduce for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Note: you do not have to strain the broth twice, but if you find there are brown bits that didn’t dissolve, strain once more through the colander.
  • Meanwhile, place your rice noodles into a bowl of warm water (not hoand allow to sit for 20 minutes.
  • After broth has reduced and noodles have soaked, drain the excess water from the noodles and transfer to the broth. Reduce heat to the lowest temperature, then add in your meatballs (juices and aland baby bok choy. Allow the ingredients to mingle, mesh, and warm up for at least 15 minutes before serving.
  • Serve with jalapeño, fresh mint and basil, shredded carrot, chili oil, and green onion.

Notes

NOTE: Optional to skip making the broth, find a local Vietnamese restaurant, and order Pho broth to save some time!