This Cambodian pork meatballs recipe makes a juicy meatball that’s flavourful and fragrant from some of the quintessential Cambodian ingredients used in a Khmer kroeung or herb and spice paste: shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and kaffir lime. Small in size, they’re perfect for wraps and rolls, soups, salads, and sandwiches, in the form of num pang, Cambodia’s baguette.
Our Cambodian pork meatballs recipe will make you juicy little meatballs that are incredibly delicious and aromatic thanks to a seasoning comprised of some of Cambodia’s most quintessential ingredients used in a Khmer kroeung or herb and spice paste, including ginger, garlic, shallots, kaffir lime, and lemongrass.
Petite in size, these moist, perfumed pork meatballs are perfect for wrapping in lettuce leaves with loads of fresh fragrant herbs; rolling up in rice paper with plump shrimp or prawns, rice noodles or vermicelli, basil, mint and coriander; added to Cambodian rice porridge, borbor, or noodle soups such as Cambodia’s kuy teav; and squeezed into crunchy num pang, Cambodia’s popular baguette sandwich akin to Vietnam’s banh mi.
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Cambodian Pork Meatballs Recipe for Wraps, Rolls, Soups, Salads, and Sandwiches
This Cambodian pork meatballs recipe makes quite a different meatball to the grilled pork meatballs recipe we previously published. While those pork balls are typically eaten with rice paper, vermicelli rice noodles, fresh salad ingredients, a quick pickle of carrot and daikon, and a dipping sauce – and these can be, too, of course – that pork mince mixture includes roasted rice and peanuts and none of the aromatic herbs of this meatball.
That grilled pork meatballs recipe makes a meatball that is popular in southern Cambodia and the country’s capital, Phnom Penh. This baked pork meatballs recipe would by contrast be considered more Khmer, as indicated by the kroeung ingredients, and is more typical of the kind of pork ball you’ll find served at street food stalls in Siem Reap and northern Cambodia.
Although it should be said that these pork meatballs are not always baked. They might be grilled, barbecued, fried, deep-fried, or, even (carefully) microwaved, which is how I saw them being cooked in an open kitchen on a street food truck on the highway on our afternoon walk yesterday.
While very traditional, and cooked both in the home and on the street, pork meatballs have become quite hip here in Siem Reap recently. I’m suddenly seeing them everywhere, in all sorts of forms, even coated in breadcrumbs, which is rare in these parts. I only have a few tips to making this juicy baked pork meatballs recipe.
Tips for Making This Cambodian Pork Meatballs Recipe
This Cambodian pork meatballs recipe makes a baked meatball recipe as we’ve had readers ask if it’s possible to make a healthy Cambodian pork meatball. Note, however, that you can still fry or deep-fry these pork meatballs if you prefer. And if you’re not a fan of baking, frying or deep-frying, you can also grill these pork meatballs as we did with the recipe on the link above.
Here in Siem Reap, we typically grill our pork meatballs outside on the balcony on a traditional clay brazier using charcoal (we use these coconut charcoal BBQ briquettes), however, if the heat or rain forces us to grill indoors we use a typical stovetop Korean BBQ grill pan. I know if we had more space outside Terence would be using one of these outdoor barbecue or grills, and if we were back in Australia, we would probably be doing these on a Weber.
If you are going to bake these pork meatballs, make sure to heat the oven to 220 degrees while you prep your ingredients. Chop everything as finely as possible. I don’t pound the ingredients as I would for a kroeung, as I still like my meatballs to have some texture. The less you do to them the better.
I fry the finely chopped purple shallots first in a splash of neutral cooking oil until the shallot pieces are soft, then I add the finely chopped garlic and fry until the shallots are translucent and then garlic is fragrant. I then add that to a mixing bowl, and use a wooden spoon to gently combine the ground pork with the rest of the ingredients and seasoning until everything is well-combined and evenly distributed. Just don’t over-mix as you’ll lose that texture and juiciness you want.
My idea of salty could very well be different to your idea of salty, so it’s always important to taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Not everyone loves fish sauce as much as I do, so if you’re unsure, add one tablespoon first, then test if the pork meatballs are seasoned to your taste by placing a little pork mince in a small fry pan or microwave to cook the mince.
Try it then adjust the seasoning to your taste. If it’s not salty enough, add the other tablespoon or even a teaspoon of fish sauce to the pork mixture, combine, and repeat. If you’re not as much of a fan of fish sauce as I am, then add a teaspoon, half a teaspoon, or even just a pinch of salt, then test the mixture again. Once the seasoning is to your liking, it’s time to form your meatballs.
Take a heaped teaspoon of the pork mince mixture and shape it into a small ball of around 2.5cm in diameter by rolling the mixture between your two hands. Then place it on a greased pan or pan lined with a greased baking sheet and repeat until you’ve used up all the mixture.
Make sure the pork meatballs are evenly spaced, then slide the tray onto your top shelf so they brown. As they’re small, they’ll bake quickly. If you have a small oven and not much space between the meatballs, then set a timer and plan to turn the meatballs after 5 minutes, then again after another 5 minutes so that they’ve evenly covered.
If you rolled the pork meatballs to 2.5cm-wide they should be just-cooked and still juicy at 15 minutes. Take a meatball out and cut it in half to check out. Bake the pork balls for longer if you prefer them browner but note that they’ll start to taste dry.
Whatever method you choose to make this Cambodian pork meatballs recipe, once your meatballs are done, you can eat them warm, wrapped in lettuce with fresh mint, basil and coriander; rolled up in rice paper with more of the same fresh herbs; dropped into a noodle soup, such as the Cambodian kuy teav I linked to above; or popped into French baguettes with a quick pickle of carrot and daikon, lettuce, herbs, a slather or mayo, and a squeeze of homemade Sriracha sauce for a Cambodian num pang.
Juicy Cambodian Pork Meatballs Recipe
- Neutral cooking oil
- 30 g purple shallot finely chopped
- 15 g garlic finely chopped or minced
- 10 g ginger finely chopped
- 1 piece of lemongrass white end only, finely sliced
- 1 small lime zest only
- 250 g fatty minced pork
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Heat the oven to 220°C.
- Fry the finely chopped purple shallot in a splash of neutral cooking oil until soft, then add the finely chopped garlic and continue to fry until the shallots are translucent and the garlic is aromatic.
- In a mixing bowl, using a spoon, combine the pork mince, fresh herbs, seasoning, shallots and garlic until everything is well-combined but the ingredients are evenly distributed, but to not over-mix.
- Test if your meatballs are seasoned to your taste by placing a little pork mince to cook in a fry pan or microwave, then adjust seasoning to your taste.
- Take a heaped teaspoon of pork mixture and form into a small ball by rolling it between your two hands. The meatballs should be around 2.5cm in diameter. Then repeat until the mixture is finished.
- Evenly space the pork meatballs on a greased pan or pan lined with a greased baking sheet on the top shelf and bake for 15 minutes. Cook longer if you prefer more colour, however, 15 minutes should be enough time for perfectly cooked juicy meatballs.
- Serve warm with plenty of fresh herbs and lettuce.
Do let us know if you make our Cambodian pork meatballs recipe as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.