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Sunday, August 24, 2008

nem nướng ~my spin

nem nướng has always been my mother's signature dish. it's grilled pork meatballs that is wrapped along with herbs in rice paper, very similiar to summer/spring rolls. even tho my mom is now a vegetarian, she still busts out the nem nướng when guests are over. she has a secret dipping sauce too that is absolutely to die for. i remember as a pre-teen seeing her kneeling on the kitchen floor just pounding the mother out of the pork to give it a special chewy texture. the likelihood of me inheriting her nem nướng recipe and dipping sauce is very slim; she guards her cooking secrets which is cute when she's trying to convey cooking prowress to strangers but not so much to me.

nem nuong

i made my version of nem nướng yesterday for a friend's cookout. i was pretty excited. the recipe calls for a pork fatback, which i know what it is but Lord me help if i knew where to find it! so i had to make adjustments. the recipe also called for the use of nuoc mam as the dipping sauce which kinda surprised me. really? fish sauce? i've never dipped it in fish sauce before and i really didn't think my friends would like it anyway. i decided to make a simple peanut dipping sauce. recipes follow.

Nem Nướng ~ Grilled Pork Meatballs
adapted from Authentic Recipes from VIETNAM
1 lb (500g) ground pork
1/2 tsp salk
7 oz (200 g) pork fatback
2 tbls sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 finger-length red chillies, deseeded and minced
1 tsp salt
3/4 tbls ground white pepper
12 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 1 hour before using
2 tbls ground roasted unsalted peanuts (optional)
Fish Sauce Dip, for dipping

Combine the ground pork and salt in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
Pan-fry the pork fatback in a skillet over medium heat for about 8 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool, then slice into very thin strips. Season the pork strips with the sugar, garlic, chillies, salt & pepper and mix well.
Wet your hands, spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of the pork mixture and shape it into a ball. Repeat until all the pork mixture is used up.
Thread the meatballs onto bamboo skewers. Grill the meatballs, a few skewers at a time, on a pan grill or under a preheated broiler using medium heat for about 5 minutes each, turning frequently, until cooked.
Sprinkle the grill meatballs with ground peanuts (if using) and serve with any accompaniments and a bowl of the dipping sauce on the side.

Makes 12 sticks.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

** just a note **
i did not use porkfat, i know that it's used to add moisture to the meat and maybe some flavoring. instead, i minced up some onions so the meatballs would still be moist. i also did not use chillies, i wasn't sure if there were going to be kids in attendance and i knew the hostess is preggers and i *think* spicy food could induce heartburn or something. i just was not taking any chances! i did not grill these bad boys, i shoved them in the oven at about 400degrees for about 15 minutes and they were fine.

Peanut Dipping Sauce
(i'm sorry, i did not pay any attention to exact measurements, it's all to taste)
4 tbls creamy peanut butter
3 tbls hoisin sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp of sesame oil
dash of sugar
1/4 cup of warm water to loosen

put it all together, adding to loosen up the mixture. you could probably garnish it further with chopped peanuts and add color with cilantro or chives (or whatever herbs/veggies you're using as accompaniements.

i served these just on skewers with the dip right in the middle of the plate. they were great hot/warm or at room temperature. and i'm happy to say, they were a hit! :)

nem nuong & peanut dipping sauce

1 comment:

  1. For the longest time, I never tried to make this ... my mom would always just bring it up for me (or make it) when she visited ... up until a few years ago when I took the leap and attempted this myself. Over the years, I've refined the recipe (nixing the fatback, ick) ... and I absolutely love this stuff. The dipping sauce is tricky at times, but this is one dish I can eat over and over and over again. I tried the recipe with Mama'Sita's spice mix ... turned out ok, but I think personalized proportions works much better, +ton of garlic. Looks good Lan.