A Vietnamese Fusion Dish
Memories of Old Saigon
Beef and Shrimp Balls, or Cha Cio, are a classic of Vietnamese cuisine, with a variety of recipes and versions.
The Beef may be a part of the Northern heritage in Vietnamese cuisine, as Beef appears rather frequently as an ingredient in the country’s cooking.
Beef and Shrimp Balls in Lettuce Cups
2 ounces Mung Bean Noodles (Cellophane Noodles)
½ pound Ground Beef
¼ pound raw Shrimp, ground
2 teaspoons Ginger, freshly grated
1 tablespoon Chinese Shao Xing Wine or Dry Sherry
2 teaspoons minced Garlic
1 teaspoon Vegetable Oil
½ teaspoon Sugar
For the Sauce:
3 tablespoons Nam Pla, Fish Sauce
3 tablespoons Water
Juice of half a Lime
1 tablespoons Sugar
1 clove Garlic, finely minced
½ teaspoon dried hot Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
For the Garnish:
12 Boston Lettuce leaves
12 Coriander leaves
12 fresh Mint leaves
12 Green Onion pieces, each 2 inches long
First, soak the Mung Bean Noodles in warm Water for 30 seconds and then drain them thoroughly. Chop them into small pieces and put them in a large bowl. Add the Pork, Shrimp, Ginger, Wine, Garlic, Vegetable Oil, Salt and Pepper. Mix well to combine.
Divide this mixture into 12 portions and shape them into oval sausage-like pieces about an inch thick and set aside.
To make the Sauce, mix all the ingredients. Ladle into four small serving dishes to ber used for dipping.
To prepare the dish, cook the Beef/Shrimp Balls in a hot broiler or over white-hot charcoal grill. If you use charcoal, they should be 6 inches from the charcoal, and turn them until they are thoroughly cooked, about 10 minutes.
To serve, use one Lettuce leaf for each ball. Top with Coriander leaf, a Mint leaf and Green Onion piece in the center of the Lettuce Leaf. Add one meat ball, wrap the Lettuce leaf to enclose the fillings. Dip the end of the fitted leaf into the dipping sauce and enjoy them. You may dip as often as you like in the sauce.
The recipe makes appetizers for four to six persons. Soaking time is about half an hour, and preparation would take about 20 minutes. The dish cooks rather quickly, say another 10 minutes once everything is ready.