Bò Vièn, Vietnamese Meatballs
I really love meatballs.
Growing up, my family would have spaghetti and meatballs every Sunday for an early dinner at Grandma's. I can still remember the circular motions my mom's hands would make, slimy with raw pork, veal, and ground chuck with flecks of parsley and garlic. I've been taught that I shouldn't write with nostalgia, but meatballs were an intimate part of my childhood and are still a centerpiece when I visit my parents to this day.
More recently, my passion for fatty balls has rebelled against my Italian-American roots. I've become particularly obsessed with Bò Vièn, Vietnam's version of the meatball. Bò Vièn are springy and chewy in texture and more densely packed than their Italian-American counterpart. Finding a house-made version at your local pho place might prove difficult, I've usually only had a clearly pre-packaged and frozen version in my noodle soups that have made me surprisingly fond of the term "mystery meat". According to blogger Runaway Rice, most industrially produced Bò Vièn use Borax and MSG to achieve the bouncy mouthfeel. I'm a huge fan of MSG and think it's just gotten a bad rap over the years, but Borax need not apply in my meal, thanks. She's provided a Bò Vièn recipe that nixes both of those ingredients that can be found on her site.
Thumbnail image: Getty (please excuse stock photos while I await my new camera in the mail)