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Ginger-Sesame Meatballs with Lemongrass BrothBy Chatelaine
This soup is an adaptation of bun cha, a Vietnamese noodle salad with meatballs. Adding a fragrant, flavourful broth—thanks to lemongrass, spices and umami-rich soy and fish sauces—warms up this dish, making it perfect for cold weather. While the ginger meatballs are traditionally made with pork, you can substitute with chicken, beef or a plant-based protein as needed. —Joshna Maharaj
- 2 stalks lemongrass
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- soy sauce , to taste
- fish sauce , to taste
- 454 g ground meat , (pork, chicken, beef or plant-based subtitute)
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 garlic cloves , minced
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1/4 400-g pkg rice vermicelli noodles
- 1/2 cup fresh mint
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- chili crisp or other chili oil , for garnish
- Broth: Trim and peel lemongrass to remove the fibrous outer layer. Using the back of your knife, smash lemongrass in thickest part to release flavour. In a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, combine lemongrass, broth, coriander seeds and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer on medium. Simmer until reduced by about a third, 5 to 8 min.
- Meatballs: Preheat oven to 425F. To a large bowl, add meat, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic and salt. Using your hands, gently mix to combine. Form into meatballs, using about 2 tsp per ball, making 20 total.
- Heat canola oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium. Add meatballs and cook until browned, 2 min per side. Transfer skillet to the oven and bake until meatballs are cooked through, 10 min. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, bring a kettle of water to a boil. Place noodles in a medium heatproof bowl. Cover noodles with boiling water and set aside until softened, stirring occasionally and checking to ensure noodles stay submerged, 10 to 15 min.
- To the pot with broth, add a splash of soy sauce and fish sauce, adjusting to taste. (Look for a nice umami punch from the fish sauce and soy sauce.)
- Roughly tear mint and cilantro. Divide cooked noodles among 4 bowls and place 5 meatballs over each pile of noodles. Ladle broth over meatballs and top with fresh herbs and chili crisp.
While I prefer to use canola oil in this recipe, any neutral vegetable cooking oil (such as grapeseed or sunflower oil) will work. However, avoid using olive oil, as it has a stronger flavour that will interfere with the taste of the soup.