Those who subscribe to SBS Food’s e-newsletter will have seen that I am their latest Featured Foodie! What a honour it is to be able to share my culinary journey with such a respected publication. In a sequence of interview questions, I talk about how my cultural heritage has influenced my cooking, which chef inspired me in my youth, what family recipe I most like to cook and more. Click to read the interview.

SBS Food - Featured Foodie - Jennifer Lam

Coinciding with SBS’s feature this month on their guide to pork, I was also asked to share a pork recipe.

Xiu Mai - Vietnamese meatballs

Since I had eaten xíu mại (Vietnamese meatballs) for breakfast twice during the week, I chose this dish, and took the opportunity to measure and properly write up my Dad’s family recipe.
Like many family recipes, the end product is the result of decades of fine tuning and intuition. It is so exciting that this recipe has now been documented and can be shared and cherished by everybody beyond my family roots.
The name of this dish may sound like the Chinese dumpling you order at yum cha, but it’s actually very different. The Vietnamese Xíu Mại are pork meatballs, often served in a light tomato sauce for dipping with a hot French bread roll, or inside a Banh Mi sandwich with cucumber, pickled daikon, shredded carrot, a few sprigs of coriander and if you like, chopped birds eye chillies.
If you own a copy of my book, I Ate My Way Through Singapore & Vietnam, flip to page 108 in the chapter ‘Cafes on the Streets of Ho Chi Minh City‘ to savour xíu mại and other street foods from Vietnam.
Bring a taste of Vietnam to your table and try this much cherished recipe.

Xíu Mại (Vietnamese meatballs)
Serves 6
1kg pork mince
15g black fungus, rehydrated and chopped coarsely
30g water chestnuts, chopped coarsely
1½ large onions, diced
1½ tbsp sesame oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pinch of salt
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp corn flour
5 tbsp tomato sauce
1 tsp sugar
½ cup water
2 tbsp corn flour mixed with ¼ cup cold water
Sauté onions with a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil. When done, set aside to cool.
Once the onion has cooled, combine all the meatball ingredients and mix well.
Roll the mixture into meatballs, about 4cm in diameter. You should be able to make about 30 meatballs.
Cook the meatballs in manageable batches of 5 – 10. Steam for either 15 – 20 minutes or place loosely in a deep plate or bowl, add 5mm of water and microwave for 3 minutes on high.
To prepare the sauce, combine the tomato sauce with sugar and ½ cup water in a saucepan. Bring to boil then quickly add the corn flour mixture. Simmer for a minute or less and serve immediately over the meatballs.

Serving suggestion: Serve with a garnish of coriander and a few drops of Maggi Seasoning plus a hot French bread roll.
Tip: These freeze really well so double the portions and freeze away!

Xiu Mai - Vietnamese meatballs in light tomato broth and close up


  1. Congrats once again Jen!
    With this crappy cold weather, this would definately be something to enjoy. I love it with a bread roll to mop up the juices. Will definately attempt to make this soon *drools*

  2. I love both Vietnamese food and any kind of meatball! These sound really simple and look delicious especially with the roll for dipping and I can imagine the slight crunch of the black fungus.
    I live in what I like to think of as little Vietnam (north west suburbs of Adelaide) and am lucky enough to be surrounded by cheap and excellent Vietnamese restaurants and grocers. Only thing is it means I rarely try to make the food myself! I think I’ll give these a go though as I haven’t seen them on the menu around here.

  3. Congrats Jen! I am fascinated when I see “xiu Mai”, does that mean is similar to Chinese “siew Mai” what u get at yum cha but without the skin and prawn and crab roe on top? maybe not LOL but i love woodear fungus… yummmm

  4. Congrats! I love SBS; live it and breathe it since it seems to be the only channel with a heavy emphasis on food programs. My mum also made this same dish (albeit with different ingredients…slightly) just last week and yet I still haven’t got around to posting about it (will more than likely take awhile)!

  5. Yum! I’ve only ever had these from Vietnamese bread roll shops jammed into a crusty bread roll but making my own sounds like a brilliant idea. Congrats on the feature!

  6. You’re hilarious! Saw on Twitter that you ended up buying a Banh Mi bread roll with Xiu Mai that day… haha… Hope you had a chance to make it over the weekend too!

  7. I haven’t had the opportunity of visiting Adelaide yet… but when I do, I’d love to visit the ‘little Vietnam’ there. Let me know how you go with this recipe 🙂

  8. Nice work with the feature, though no surprise I guess considering your profile. Just a matter of time 🙂
    The dish looks great. Did you have any trouble accurately documenting the recipe? I’ve tried with my mother and I’ve yet to obtain a single family secret thus far 🙂

  9. My mother and I (plus your chance to WIN a $500 Lindt prize pack!)

    In the lead up to Mother’s Day this year, I thought I’d share a bit about how my mother inspires me. This blog post contains no recipe and no restaurant review – just a personal recollection of my relationship with…


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