Vietnamese nem nuong (grilled pork patties) recipe

This is one of Bee's and my fav. dish (and now hubby).  Just a right amount of sweet and savory !  It can be eaten as is, as appie, or as a meal with vermicelli and lettuce with Vietnamese dipping sauce or with rice !  In the summer, what I usually do is form the meat mixture into 1 1/2 inch meat balls, and then skew them into bamboo skewers and grill on the bbq !  they're always a hit and disappeared very fast !

If you make them into meat patties, it's less time consuming and they freeze very well too.  I usually make a big batch of them, cook until it's just done, let them cool , put in freezer zip lock bag and throw in the freezer.  To reheat, put the frozen patties, single layer, in the oven (350 C) for about 15 min to heat them through.

This is a recipe given to me by my mother in law, who got it from her sister in law.  In a way it's a family recipe !  and it's shared here with permission :-)   Enjoy !

Vietnamese Nem Nuong (grilled pork patties)
(there's no exact translation for it :-(

Yield:  4 large patties (when sliced, serve 6-8 as a meal with noodles, lettuce) or 16-20 large meatballs or ~45 small meatballs (1.5").


- 3lb of lean pork loin or shoulder or ground pork 
- 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder (I use 1 pack of Alsa baking powder brand)
- 4 tablespoons of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of honey (I usually add 1/2 spoon more of honey for added sweetness)
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 3 tablespoons of good fish sauce (I use the Viet Huong 3 crab brand)
- 3 teaspoons of black pepper (you can add more or less as per liking)

- 6-9 cloves of garlic, finely minced

Vietnamese honey garlic pork patties !  Fresh off the grill !  I looove the end pieces :-)


- In a food processor, put all ingredients in EXCEPT garlic.  Grind everything together until well mixed.   Cover and leave in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

*** YOU CAN ALSO USE STORE BOUGHT GROUND PORK.  In a mixing bowl or pot, add all the dry/liquid ingredients (EXCEPT garlic) and whisk into a paste, then add the ground pork.  Put on a pair of food gloves and mix the meat well.  Cover & leave in the fridge for at least an hour.  

- Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a small dish.

- Preheat oven to 350 C degree

- Take the meat mixture out of the fridge, then add in the minced garlic (don't mix the garlic in before because it will tint the meat a grey green color ! mix garlic in just right before baking).  When well mixed, leave aside.

- Take some olive oil from the dish and rub between your fingers, all over your hand.  This is to prevent the meat from sticking to your hands.  You can now either take the meat mixtures and form into meat balls OR make big patties out of them.  When forming the meat, make sure to add a little pressure so the meat will pack tight.  If you pack it loosely the patties/balls will have lots of empty pocket and won't be dense.

- If making patties, don't make it more than 1" thick.

- Grease a baking pan or lined the oven rack with tin foil, put the meat balls or patties on it.  Leave about 1 inches of space between each.

- Bake in the oven for 30-35 min.  Flip the balls or patties over to the other side after 15-17 min. in the oven so that it's golden all over !  You can grill them on the bbq too !

Serve with Vietnamese dripping sauce with a side of vermicelli, rice or in a wrap with green veggies (lettuce, cucumbers, cilantro, mint, basil, and/or any other Vietnamese herbs that you like).

Note:  For a healthier alternative, as we don't eat a lot of red meat, I have made this with ground turkey and it turned out pretty tasty !  I also tried half chicken half pork and it turned out just as well ! 

If you attempted this, please let me know how it turned out for you.  I know some time different brands produced different results.  Love to hear your feedback !