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Vietnamese Meatball Rice Bowls
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5 from 2 votes

Rice Bowls with Baked Vietnamese-style Meatballs

Equally delicious made with pork or turkey, these baked Vietnamese-style meatballs are packed with our favorite flavors: salty, funky fish sauce, tart lime juice, verdant cilantro and touch of sugar for sweetness. Nestled on top of rice and alongside Banh Mi-style pickles and fresh herbs, this is a quick, healthy dinner that's sure to please everyone at your table.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Chilling Time15 mins
Total Time45 mins
Author: Emily Clifton, Nerds with Knives


For the Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground pork or dark meat turkey
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish
  • 3 scallions white and green parts, minced
  • 3 large garlic cloves grated or minced
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon palm or light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest from 1 lime
  • 1/2 tablespoon neutral oil (or use cooking spray)

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons palm sugar or light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice plus more for squeezing
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons sambal oelek or chili garlic sauce or more, to taste

For the Bowl:

  • 2 to 3 cups cooked rice or other grain of your choice
  • 2/3 cup thinly sliced Persian or English cucumber optional
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced radishes optional
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts chopped


  • Heat oven to 375ºF and set a rack in the middle slot. Line a rimmed baking tray with parchment.
  • In a medium bowl, add the pork, 1 tablespoon cold water, cilantro, scallions, garlic, fish sauce, sugar, salt, black pepper and lime zest. Mix with a rubber spatula or your hands until thoroughly combined, then keep vigorously stirring until the mixture turns soft and sticky, about 30 seconds. Using lightly moistened hands, roll the mixture into 1 1/2 tablespoon-sized balls, placing them on the prepared baking sheet. (A portion scoop is helpful but you can also just eye it). You should end up with about 24 balls. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, or up to a day.
  • Remove from the refrigerator, drizzle the meatballs lightly with oil or give them a quick spritz with cooking spray, and bake until meatballs are lightly golden and cooked through, about 15 minutes. If you want them darker, place them under the broiler for a minute or two.
  • Make the dressing while the meatballs are baking. In a small bowl, stir together the fish sauce, sugar, lime juice and sambal oelek.
  • Assemble the bowls with rice, meatballs, carrot and daikon pickles and any extra vegetables. Top with a few cilantro sprigs and some chopped peanuts. Drizzle over a little dressing and serve with extra dressing on the side and a little lime, for squeezing.
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