Vietnamese beef meatballs in tomato sauce – Delicious Vietnam #7

Vietnamese beef meatballs

It’s been a long time! So much has been happening in my life outside of the blog. We moved. We travelled. We had some amazing time in New York, and now a new venture has started. It seems so hard to keep up with all the events around us, so many things to do, so many friends to catch up…

Yesterday, I opened my google reader. 1000+ unread posts. There was no way I could ever go through them all. ‘Mark all as read’, and I feel better. No guilty feeling and a fresh start.
It’s good to return to the blog world with a fresh start!

I am still getting used to my new kitchen. Gotta say though, this is perhaps the best kitchen I have ever had. Mind the mess, I know several ladies who loved this red kitchen bench top. Chic and cute, isn’t it? :-). That, together with the park at the front, makes me incredibly happy.

Beautiful spring light from the park in front of my place

But. I need to talk about this scrumptious Vietnamese inspired dish – beef meatballs in tomato sauce. It is my concoction of the ever popular pork meatballs (xíu mại) – the kind you see in Vietnamese baguette (bánh mì).

I know that the Italian has done a fabulous job with their meatballs. I love them. Rest assure though that this recipe is something you need to make if you are big fan of meatballs as much as Mr. B does. The Vietnamese version has crunchier texture, benefiting from the addition of finely chopped water chestnuts and the steaming process. Yes, you read it right. We steam our meatballs and collect all the delicious juices. The juices are then added to the soft tomato mixture, creating a mellow sauce to coat those lovely meatballs. Delicious by itself, or used as a filling for baguette together with other sweet-sour pickles and herbs.

This dish was prepared well in advance for Delicious Vietnam #7. Hosted by Nina of MissAdenvture@Home. All details can be found here.

Until next time. Have a great weekend!

Vietnamese beef meatballs

Vietnamese beef meatballs in tomato sauce

Loosely adapted from a recipe on

1 kg beef mince (lean mince is okay)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 red Asian shallots, finely chopped
3 green onion, white part only, finely chopped
1 small can water chestnut (220g), drained and chopped
1 egg
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Tomato sauce
3 gloves garlic, finely chopped
4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 teaspoons sugar

In a large bowl, combine the mince, garlic, shallots, green onions, water chestnuts, egg, sugar, salt, fish sauce and pepper, and mix well with your hands. Form the mixture into 4cm balls then place them on a plate or tray.

Now steam the meatballs and collect their juices. I used a bamboo steamer and did it in batches. [Edit] Steam until the meatballs are just cooked through and hold their shape well. Set aside.[Edit]

In a large heavy based saucepan, heat a small amount of oil then add the chopped garlic and fry until fragrant. Add the chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil. Add the tomato paste, water, fish sauce, sugar, salt and pepper. Then add the meatballs and their juices.

Simmer the meatballs for about 25 minutes or until cooked and sauce is reduced.

Taste test and add more seasoning if required. Remove from heat.

Serve meatballs as fillings in a crusty baguette with coriander, cucumber, red chillies and pickled radish and carrots. Or serve meatballs with white rice.

33 Responses to Vietnamese beef meatballs in tomato sauce – Delicious Vietnam #7

  1. Rosa's Yummy Yums says:

    So yummy lookiong! A wonderfully comforting dish.

  2. Marisa says:

    Such a great idea to use the flavourful meat juices in the sauce! I gotta try this, since I love meatballs.

  3. msihua says:

    Oooh.. I wonder if I could substitute this with lamb as I don't do beef.. looks amazing!

  4. shaz says:

    I love that red countertop! So cool. Are you going to tell us all about NY? And your maple syrup haul ;P. Must try these meatballs, I like water chestnuts a lot.

  5. Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul says:

    Wow Anh! You have been busy! Can't wait to hear about your NY adventures. I'm in love with these meatballs! I love the fact that they are steamed. Gorgeous!

  6. Phuoc'n Delicious says:

    I like the look of your kitchen Anh! Love the red bench top! Oh I hear you in regards to starting fresh.. Good on you!

  7. penny aka jeroxie says:

    Welcome back to Melb and blogging. Love your dish as usual :)

  8. Agnes says:

    Haha, I'm still trying to work through all my unread posts! I just can't click that "mark all read" button. Good on you for doing it!

  9. Zhuang Lemon Duck says:

    Steam the meatballs for how long?

  10. pigpigscorner says:

    Looks fantastic! Love your new kitchen! It's red and so spacious!

  11. leaf (the indolent cook) says:

    Ooh, New York! Been wondering where you'd been. I LOVE that red kitchen bench. Gorgeous! And the meatballs sound delicious.

  12. tigerfish says:

    I like that tip on steaming the meatball first to collect the juice :)

  13. Maria @ Scandi Foodie says:

    This is a whole different way of making meatballs than what we do in Scandinavia, but I like it! Great flavours!

  14. Maameemoomoo says:

    Welcome back Anh!

  15. Christine@Christine's Recipes says:

    The red bench top is gorgeous. Having traveled a lot, a homey dish like this is the best. :)

  16. Monet says:

    Isn't it great to hit that button? Sometimes we need to take a step back from the blogging world in order to appreciate the life around us! Thank you for sharing these beautiful photographs and this recipe. Both brought a smile to my face. I'm glad that things are looking so up for you! Great kitchens are always such a joy!

  17. OohLookBel says:

    Ah, meatballs, the universal food! I just made Greek meatballs today, though you are very inspiring with these water chestnut-spiked ones. Hope you are enjoying your new kitchen and house :)

  18. Faith says:

    Sounds like you've been busy, Anh! I'm glad you're back, we missed you. :) Your new place is kitchen is wonderful, can't wait to see the creations you cook in there. The meatballs look delicious!

  19. Little Corner of Mine says:

    This meat balls look delicious. :)

  20. Food For Tots says:

    It's such a great idea to steam your meatballs. The gravy looks so mouth-watering! Great to go with rice and bread. Your kitchen is so nice! Hope you have a smooth transition. 😉

  21. Anonymous says:

    ohhhhhhh, I am a meatball lover, and i will love these…….

  22. Shirley @ Kokken69 says:

    The meat ball does look incredibly scrumptious! I am already feeling hungry looking at them.

  23. Johanna GGG says:

    sounds like you have been busy – lucky you going to new york and having a great new kitchen.

  24. Quay Po Cooks says:

    Love this sumptuous looking meat balls!

  25. My Restaurants Melbourne says:

    The dish looks delicious, how about putting chilli in it too? I love my chilli in these kinds of dishes

  26. Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! says:

    They look great Anh! And welcome back again =)

  27. starwind777 says:


  28. Soma says:

    The red top is really really chic. I love white in my home, and my kitchen in not white. I dearly wish it was.

  29. make my day says:

    Oh my Anh… this is a fantastic recipe! we love meatballs in this house. cheers kari

  30. Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets says:

    This looks great, Anh. And love the non-food shots too.

  31. Julia says:

    Yum-o! I've been wanting to try these in my homemade Pho,I always buy the frozen ones. I'll definetly be trying this recipe out! Thanks for sharing!

  32. riceandwheat says:

    Whew, glad to hear I'm not the only one with an unmanageable number of unread posts in my RSS reader, although I don't think I'm brave enough to 'mark all as read' yet. 😀 Good thing too, or I'd have missed this meatballs recipe, which arrived with impeccable timing right when we received an insane amount of ground beef. I love the idea of putting them in tomato sauce but

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