Grilled pork balls with mint and coriander

Jill Dupleix
Pork balls with coriander and lettuce.
Pork balls with coriander and lettuce. Photo: Quentin Jones

The defining characteristic of Vietnamese cooking is the presence of basket-loads of fresh herbs and salad greens. These little meatballs, nem nuong are typically eaten wrapped in lettuce leaves with herbs and rice noodles.


1 iceberg lettuce, chilled

500g minced pork

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground pepper

1 tbsp fish sauce

2 tsp caster sugar

200g dried rice vermicelli

2 tbsp torn mint leaves

2 tbsp torn coriander leaves


1 tsp castor sugar

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

3 tbsp fish sauce

1 fresh red chilli, sliced

8 bamboo skewers


Soak eight bamboo skewers in water to prevent them burning. Dry-fry the rice in a small pan until lightly golden. Grind to a powder and set aside. Separate the lettuce leaves and chill.

Combine the ground rice, pork, garlic, salt, pepper, fish sauce and sugar and knead until well mixed.

Boil the vermicelli for 2 to 3 minutes until just cooked, drain and rinse in cold water.

To make the dressing, mix the sugar and lime juice, then add the fish sauce and chilli. Toss the drained noodles and torn mint and coriander leaves in the dressing.

With wet hands, roll the pork mixture into balls the size of a walnut. Thread the balls onto the drained wooden skewers (three to a skewer) and grill on or under a pre-heated grill until golden brown, turning occasionally.

To serve: Serve with a few extra mint and coriander leaves and chilled lettuce leaves for wrapping.