Vietspices Search

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bò Viên (Vietnamese Beef Meatballs)



If you ask my daughters what their mommy's favorite food is, they would tell you it's "Phở", the quintessential Vietnamese dish. Yes, a bowl of comforting Phở (Vietnamese beef/chicken noodle soup) will satisfy my tummy at anytime - I can eat it for a week! 

Most of the time, I would make Phở Gà (Vietnamese chicken noodle soup) as it is easier and less time consuming. A pot of Phở Gà can be cooked in an hour while Phở Bò (Vietnamese beef noodle soup) takes at least half of a day to prepare and cook. 


Phở Bò Viên (Vietnamese noodle soup with meatballs) is no exception to Phở Bò but you can always take a short cut by using ox tail (đuôi bò) to make the broth which takes less time than using beef bones. A simple bowl of Phở Bò Viên is just Bò Viên and noodle. It's simple but flavorful. You can also enjoy Bò Viên with chicken broth, sprinkled with chopped scallions and white pepper and served as a soup.

Homemade food is always the best as we know exactly what goes in it. Some of the Bò Viên brands you would find at Asian stores are very chewy due to the hàn the (borax) that is added. In oriental cooking, hàn the used as a cooking ingredient is to add a firm rubbery texture to the food, or as a preservative. It is banned in the United States. 

This Bò Viên recipe is very tasty and easy to make. The spicy ginger and aromatic garlic add bold flavors to Bò Viên. The result of Bò Viên is firm, crunchy but not chewy as you would find it in store-bought Bò Viên. 

For those who live in Melbourne, click here to check out Cannings Free Range Butchers where they have a wide range fresh meat and seafood with home delivery too.  How convenient that is! 
*
RECIPE: Bò Viên

*
Ingredients

4 pounds lean Ground Beef Chuck or Ground  Beef Shank (bắp bò); ask the butcher to ground it for you
2 bags Alsa Baking Powder
8 tablespoons Fish Sauce
2 tablespoons finely chopped Garlic
3 teaspoons Sugar
2 teaspoons Ground Pepper
2 teaspoons fresh grated Ginger
*
Directions
*
Preparing Beef


In a bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix it well. Cover and place it in freezer for about 2-3 hours until the beef is really cold or frosty but not yet frozen. You can also place it in the frigde overnight instead freezer. This process will help the meat to bind together. 


Remove from freezer or fridge then place it in the food processor with 1/4 of the beef at a time; do not overload the work bowl. Process to a completely smooth but firm paste. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the work bowl. Transfer the beef paste to another bowl. Process the remaining beef.

Place the beef in the freezer for about 30 minutes.  This process will help make the beef balls more crunchy.


 Beef Chuck makes great meatball due to its richness of flavor and balance of meat and fat.

Beef Shank (bắp bò) is filled with tough, dense muscle tissues. It takes longer to cook meatball. The result of meatball is chewy and a little bit dry.

*
Making Meatball

Bring a pot of water to boil.  
Prepare a bowl of ice water.  Set aside.

Use a spoon to scoop the meat and make it into balls.  To avoid the beef from sticking on our hands, wet your hands and a spoon with water. 

Place meatballs into the boiling water.  When the meatballs float to the surface, let them cook for a few more minutes. The total time is about 7 minutes.

Remove meatballs and place them in an ice water bowl for about 3 minutes. By doing this, the meatballs will bind together and become crunchy.

Remove meatballs from ice water. 


These meatballs may be frozen for a few months in the freezer.  They actually taste crunchier after they have been in the freezer for awhile. 
*
Presentation



Add it in Pho broth to make a delicious bowl of Phở Bò Viên (Beef Noodle Soup).


Served separately as an appetizer with Sriracha and hoisin sauce.

Meatballs can also be added to a well-seasoned beef broth or chicken broth, sprinkled with chopped scallions and white pepper and served as a soup. 


Ăn Ngon!  Eat Well!

26 comments:

  1. Thank goodness for this recipe! I've been buying the bo vien from the Asian stores and there's MSG in there, let alone Borax, which I didn't realize! Argh. My kids just love bo vien in their pho.

    I will try this out next weekend when we are home. Yeah for home-made bo vien!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am going to try this recipe very soon. Thank you miss Loan. Wish we live nearby so we can trade recipes more readily.

    ReplyDelete
  3. RCH: yes, keep it as organic and natural as possible; who knows what kind of imported products we get these days. Please let me know how this turns out.

    Anh: I would love to try out your recipe

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Loan,

    Turned out perfect on the first try! Thank you so much for sharing!

    Hoa

    ReplyDelete
  5. I tried this Bo Vien recipe over the weekend. Although it turned out pretty good, but it was not "dai" as I'd to be. Not sure what went wrong. Hua

    ReplyDelete
  6. This recipe doesn't give you the chewy rubbery (dai) texture as you would find in store-bought Bo Vien since there is no Hàn The (borax) added.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I tried it again. with longer refreg time & use thit bo bap instead. It turn out very very good & chewy. I have a 9 cup kitchenAid food processor, but feel like to invest in a heavy duty one to make more. Thanks for the recipe. Hua.

    ReplyDelete
  8. @Hua, thanks for mentioning Thit Bo Bap (beef shank) which I totally forgot to mention about it in Bo Vien post. I do use Bo Bap to make bo vien, but sometimes i use ground beef when i dont want to make a trip to Asian store :-). Beef shank is a tough and chewy piece of meat. When using it to make Bo Vien, it will give Bo Vien a nice chewy texture. Thanks for sharing your experiment :-).

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Loan,
    What kind of ground chuck do you buy ? the 85% fat , more fat or leaner than 85%. Also , how do you make the ball tight? Mine don't hold their round shape after they are being boil. (Although they taste pretty good) . Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  10. This worked fantastically well! I'm so pleased as it's difficult to find ready made Bo Vien in supermarkets in the UK. Thanks for the recipe!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Loan, just stumbled across your recipe and am thinking of trying it out. I would like to include tendon in them (I think the meatball is then called bo vien gan?) but not sure how to incorporate (what kind of tendon, do I cook first, when do I add..). If you have any advice it would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

    - Jenn

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Jenn, you need to cook the tendon first until soft but not too soft. Chop it into tiny pieces. Add chopped tendon last when you are ready to form meat into balls and boil them.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Loan, thanks so much for the tip! So I should add the tendon bits after the meat has been in the freezer for the 30 minutes, correct? And I can use beef tendon (it's really the only kind of tendon I know I can reliably buy)? And boiling should be fine to cook it? Thanks!

    - Jenn

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi Loan, sorry to bug you again, I meant to ask what Alsa baking powder is? Can I use regular baking powder and if so, how much? Thanks!

    - Jenn

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi!! I'm thrilled to report that this recipe turned out very well. I found the Alsa at my locatl T&T. I cooked some tendon (per Serious Eats' steaming method) and used about 1/3 lb for a quarter of this recipe (makes about 24 meatballs). The tendon bits kind of fall out but overall the taste is fantastic and the meatballs still had a nice bouncy texture. Thanks Loan!!

    - Jenn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jenn, I love the tendon texture in meatballs.

      Delete
    2. Me too. But, I just had the meatballs yesterday for the first time since I'd frozen them - simmered for 10 minutes from frozen - and I found that the tendon bits ended up really soft. Even though I had undercooked the tendon before mixing them in. Maybe I simmered the meatballs for too long? The meatballs still had a nice bouncy texture though.

      -Jenn

      Delete
    3. Hi there,

      Thank you for sharing the recipe. It work out really well but the first time I made it very nice and chewy but the second time I think I did not leave the meat in the freezer long enough so it was not nice as the first one.

      Delete
  16. Very good recipe! I love beef shanks and will definitely try that next time!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Loan, first thanks for the recipe. I only have rib eye at the moment but I want to make beef ball for my 2 yr old girl. Would this type of meat work for your recipe? I don't need it chewy, I need it soft enough but not falling apart for the little girl to try.
    Thu.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Thu, I haven't tried it with rib eye but I think it should be fine. Go for it :-)

      Delete
    2. Wow, so yummy. It is soft but still has the rubbery texture. It is absolutely perfect for a toddler. Thank you so much for the recipe.I'm not going to buy beef balls from supermarket anymore.
      Thu.

      Delete
  18. what is is purpose of the baking powder? and is the brand really important?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The purpose of the baking powder is to make the meat crunchy and bouncy.
      The brand is not important. Most baking powders are double-acting. This Alsa brand is single-acting baking powder and it's available at most of the Asian stores.

      Delete
  19. Hi Loan,
    What brand of food processor would you recommend? My little chopper burned out. The brand new KitchenAid didn't work out so well either :(
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi can I use double acting baking powder would it still be crunchy

    ReplyDelete