Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pork Meatball Banh and Vianne Chocolat

I've ruled out a lot of recipes over the years because of ingredients I never thought I would have in my kitchen. One of those ingredients was fish sauce but ever since I read Betsy's post on bánh mì xiu mai (her take on Bon Appetit's recipe) I've been reconsidering my decision. I decided that a night when we had friends over would be a good time to sneak fish sauce into Matt's dinner... as we all know my husband can't stomach seafood.

Our friends Kaleen and Matt ended up being my lucky victims. My husband was too busy tidying the home before our guests arrived to notice me slipping in the secret ingredient...

I served appetizers and beer while I finished making dinner. Trader Joe's edamame hummus with ak-mak crackers is my new favorite snack. I love the crunchy, crispy, wheat and sesame crackers with the flavorful green hummus.

After a couple of drinks and catching up dinner was finally ready. There was a quick assembly of sandwiches and then we all went to the roof deck to enjoy the view and our dinner.

The sandwiches were a hit... even after my husband discovered the secret ingredient. The layers of flavors are perfect together... crunchy, cool and spicy. It's probably the best sandwich I've ever had or made.

For a dessert I had another little surprise... a new, Boston-based, local ingredient chocolate company had dropped off some samples and we were all going to participate in the little taste test. I had been drooling over the beautiful package from Vianne Chocolat all afternoon so I could barely wait to rip into them.

First we split the two dark chocolate raspberry truffles with cocoa and raspberry powder into halves.

After the truffles I carefully cut the five other chocolates into quarters with my good-enough-to-be-surgeon skilled hands. From the below picture starting with the bottom right corner you can see the delightful chocolates; Chambord filled with raspberry powder, lavender, burnt caramel cup, and mint.

There was one additional chocolate under these four beauties... a rose scented dove. This beautiful little dove was one of my favorites. I really enjoyed the slight hint of rose in the dark chocolate.

All of the chocolates were amazing but my absolute favorite was the burnt caramel cup. I wasn't expecting the liquid center so when I cut into it I frantically shouted for my dinner crew to come quickly... they needed to catch a taste of the caramel before it was all over the plate. I think we all agreed that the caramel was perfect; you can tell that a very talented chocolatier made the perfectly burnt caramel. I may have run my finger through the caramel that was leftover on the plate when no one was looking... maybe...

We all felt so privileged to partake in a tasting of these wonderful chocolates!

The owner, Valerie, also throws chocolate parties which I'm sure would be a great event, perfect for a bridal or baby shower! If you're interested in trying some of these chocolates or setting up a chocolate party go to the website.

Pork Meatball Banh Mi

Hot Chili Mayo
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as Sriracha)*
1 pound ground pork
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
2 cups coarsely grated carrots
2 cups coarsely grated peeled daikon (Japanese white radish)**
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
4 10-inch-long individual baguettes or four 10-inch-long pieces French-bread baguette (cut from 2 baguettes)
Thinly sliced jalapeño chiles
16 large fresh cilantro sprigs
*Available in the Asian foods section of many supermarkets and at Asian markets.
**Available at some supermarkets and at Asian markets

Hot Chili Mayo

Stir all ingredients in small bowl. Season with salt. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.


Line rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Gently mix all ingredients in large bowl. Using moistened hands and scant tablespoonful for each, roll meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Arrange on baking sheet. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
Toss first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour, tossing occasionally.
Preheat oven to 300°F. Heat sesame oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of meatballs. Sauté until brown and cooked through, turning meatballs often and lowering heat if browning too quickly, about 15 minutes. Transfer meatballs to another rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven. Repeat with remaining meatballs.


Cut each baguette or baguette piece horizontally in half. Pull out enough bread from each bread half to leave 1/2-inch-thick shell. Spread hot chili mayo over each bread shell. Arrange jalapeños, then cilantro, in bottom halves. Fill each with 1/4 of meatballs. Drain pickled vegetables; place atop meatballs. Press on baguette tops.

Serves 4

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