Xiu Mai or Vietnamese Meatballs in Tomato Sauce is a classic dish that is commonly made throughout many Vietnamese households. The meatballs are extremely juicy and flavorful while also being smothered with that delicious tomato sauce. It’s one of the most delicious dishes you’ll have ever tried.
If you ever met me before, you’ll know that one of my most favorite foods to get from Subway is a meatball sub. The nice toasty bread combined with the rich flavorful meatball and sauce is something that is out of this world.
I always thought that was going to be the best sandwich that I’ll ever have.
However, I was oh so wrong. In fact, it wasn’t until I visited my grandma where she said she can make a way better sandwich than the one subway makes.
At first, I was definitely doubting her skills. After all, that meatball sub from Subway is god tier.
But then, she popped out of the kitchen holding something that looks similar to a meatball sub except it was a bit different. You could tell that the sauce was different, the meatballs were definitely larger, and the most interesting thing is that the bread was actually a baguette.
Think of a banh mi sandwich except with meatballs and sauce as the filling. That was exactly what she served me. Once I tried it, my brain instantly malfunctioned. It was that darn good! Add in a few pieces of cilantro and it tastes even better!
It was definitely one of the best sandwiches I have ever had. Who knew there was a Vietnamese version of the classic meatball sub? At least I didn’t.
But I’m glad I got to try it as I have instantly fallen in love with it.
Difference Between Xiu Mai and Siu Mai/Shumai
When you first think of the name Xiu Mai, you might be thinking of another dish that also sounds amazingly similar called Siu Mai. However don’t get these two mixed up as they are completely different dishes.
Siu Mai is the Chinese version of a dumpling with meat wrapped inside of some dough wrappers. It is usually served in Dim Dum restaurants and is absolutely delicious on its own.
Where as Xiu Mai is a Vietnamese meatball that is smothered in delicious tomato sauce. It can usually be found served by itself or in certain places, they even put them inside of some bread to make a sandwich.
Overall however, both dishes are simply amazing to eat, but just keep in mind that they are vastly different.
Why This Recipe Works?
- Xiu Mai is one of the most flavorful and delicious dishes you’ll ever try. Once you make this dish, you will never be able to go back to the original boring meatballs you had before.
- This is basically like spaghetti and meatballs except without the spaghetti. The meatballs are marinated inside a delicious tomato sauce that pairs perfectly with anything you add it with.
- This dish is extremely simple and fast to make. Only needing about an hour of your time and you’ll be able to make a dish that your entire family will fall in love with.
Ingredients To Make Xiu Mai
The ingredients you’ll need to make Xiu Mai / Vietnamese Meatballs In Tomato Sauce can all be easily found at any of your local Asian supermarkets.
Basically, you’ll need the following:
For The Meatball:
- Ground Pork – 1 Pound of Ground Pork
- Soy Sauce – 2 Teaspoons of Soy Sauce
- Vegetable Oil – 1 Tablespoon of Vegetable Oil
- Chicken Bouillon Powder – 1/2 Tablespoon of Chicken Bouillon Powder
- Onion – 1/2 a Yellow/White Onion (Minced)
- Red Shallot – 1/2 a Shallot (Minced)
- Jicama – 1/2 Cup of Jicama (Cut Into Strips)
- Garlic – 2 Cloves of Garlic (Minced)
- Black Pepper – 1 Teaspoon of Black Pepper
- Cornstarch – 1 Tablespoon of Corn Starch
- Egg – (Optional) 1 Egg
For The Sauce:
- Vegetable Oil – 2 Tablespoon of Vegetable Oil
- Garlic – 4 Cloves of Garlic (Minced)
- Tomato – 4 Ripe Tomatoes (Diced)
- Water – 1 Cup of Water
- Sugar – 1 Tablespoon of Granulated White Sugar
- Fish Sauce – 2 Tablespoon of Fish Sauce
- Black Pepper – 1/4 Teaspoon of Black Pepper
- Salt – 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
- Tomato Paste – 1 1/2 Tablespoon of Tomato Paste
- Green Onion – 1 Green Onion Stalk
- Cilantro – Garnish
- Salt – 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- Water – 2 Cup of Water
For The Starch Slurry:
- Corn Starch – 2 Teaspoon of Corn Starch
- Water – 1 Tablespoon of Water
How To Make Xiu Mai
Making the Xiu Mai / Vietnamese Meatballs In Tomato Sauce is a really simple thing to do.
Basically the process is as followed:
Prepping The Jicama
First thing you’ll want to do is to cut up your Jicama into thin strips.
Then pour a few cups of water into a pot and bring it to a boil. Once it’s boiling add in a 1/2 teaspoon of salt as well as your strips of Jicama. Let it cook around for a few minutes or until the Jicama becomes soft.
Once it’s soft, turn off the heat. Drain the pot and pat the Jicama dry with a napkin. Then use a knife and chop the strips of Jicama into tiny pieces. Then set it aside.
Now it’s time to make the meatballs.
Making The Meatballs
Grab a skillet or pan and pour some oil into it over medium-high heat.
Once the oil is hot enough, add in your minced onion, shallot and garlic pieces. Then cook them around for a few minutes or until they are nicely softened and fragrant. Then turn off the heat and set aside.
Grab a bowl, and add in your ground pork, chopped jicama, cooked onions, cooked shallots and cooked garlic. Then add in your seasonings (salt, sugar, chicken bouillon powder, black pepper, soy sauce, and cornstarch).
(Optional) You can crack in 1 egg as well if you want for better flavor.
Mix things together really well until everything is nicely incorporated with each other.
Then using your hands, grab a small handful of the mixture and roll it into a meatball shape. Then set it aside. Continue doing this for the rest of the mixture until you have made it all into meatballs.
Note: Size of meatball is totally dependent on how big you want them to be.
Using your favorite steaming method, steam your meatballs for around 20 minutes. Once they are finished steaming, set them aside.
Now you can make your sauce.
Making The Sauce
Grab a skillet or pan and pour some oil into it over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot enough, add in your chopped green onions and minced garlic. Stir it around until things start to get fragrant.
Then add in your tomatoes, tomato paste and seasonings (sugar, salt, chicken bouillon powder) into the pan or skillet. Then continue to stir things around.
Grab your cup of water and pour it into the pan or skillet.
Make sure you are stirring the sauce around at this time.
Once the mixture starts to boil, add in the meatballs you have just made. Stir the meatballs around in the sauce to fully coat them. Then lower the heat to a low simmer and let it cook for around 10 minutes.
After time is up, grab a bowl and make your starch slurry (cornstarch + water). Then pour it into the pan or skillet and stir immediately until the sauce starts to thicken.
Once the sauce has thickened, turn off the heat.
Congratulations, you have just made Xiu Mai.
How To Store/Keep For Future Eating
Storing this Xiu Mai / Vietnamese Meatballs In Tomato Sauce dish is a really simple thing to do. Basically, if you have any leftovers remaining, simply cover it up with some plastic wrap or you can store them inside of some air-tight containers. Then you can place it in the fridge where it should be good for up to 3 days.
As for freezing, I wouldn’t suggest you to freeze the xiu mai dish after you have made it. The reason is that the sauce that comes with it will usually not freeze very well. And once you re-heat it, the texture is usually much different.
If you want to freeze it however, I would suggest you to freeze the xiu mai meat balls before you cook them. This way you can freeze them for up to 3 months. And whenever you are ready to make them again, simply defrost and start cooking.
As for re-heating, simply take them out of the fridge and cook it inside of a pot or skillet over medium-high heat. Once it is nice and hot again, it should be ready to serve.
FAQS About This Recipe
Yes! The best thing about this recipe is that it is incredibly versatile. You can use any type of ground meat that you want. Whether it is beef or chicken or anything else can all work. Some people even like to use shrimp to make shrimp meatballs!
Typically you can find Jicama usually being sold at any of your local Asian supermarkets. However if they don’t have any or you simply can’t find it, you can replace with some anything that’s similar like a Daikon for example.
Tips To Make The Best Tasting Xiu Mai
- For maximum amount of flavor, try to use fattier cuts of meat. The more fat your meat has, the more flavors that will spread throughout the meatball.
- Try to leave some chunks of tomatoes when you cut up the tomatoes. Try not to make them too small so that you can still get some texture in the sauce when you start to eat it.
- If you are able to find a baguette style bread, then one thing you can totally try is to make a meatball sandwich. Simply slice open your bread, add the meatballs and some sauce then enjoy.
Xiu Mai Recipe (Vietnamese Meatballs In Tomato Sauce)
For The Meatball
- 1 Lb Ground Pork
- 2 Teaspoon Soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
- 1/2 Tablespoon Chicken Bouillon Powder
- 1/2 Medium Yellow/White Onion Diced
- 1/2 Cup Jicama Chopped into Strips
- 1 Large Red Shallot Minced
- 4 Clove Garlic Minced
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
- 1 Egg (Optional)
For the Sauce
- 2 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
- 4 Clove Garlic Minced
- 4 Tomato Diced
- 1 Cup Water
- 1 Tablespoon Granulated White Sugar
- 2 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
- 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
- 1 Green Onion Chopped
- Cilantro Garnish
Additional Items For Prepping Jicama
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Cup Water
Starch Slurry Ingredients
- 2 Teaspoon Corn Starch
- 1 Tablespoon Water
Prepping The Jicama
- First thing you'll want to do is to prep the jicamaShave off the outer wax skin and then cut the Jicama into thin strips.Grab a pot and fill it with some water and salt. Then bring it to a boil over medium-high heat.Once the water is boiling, add in your strips of Jicama. Cook them for a few minutes or until they start to get soft and tender.Turn off the heat.
- Drain the water from the pot and pour your Jicama strips out onto a cutting board. Then using a knife, chop up the strips of jicama into tiny pieces.Then set it aside.
Making The Meatballs
- Grab a pan or skillet and pour some oil into it over medium-high heat.Once the oil is hot enough, add in your diced onions, shallots and garlic. Then cook it around for a few minutes or until they have softened and become a nice brown color.Turn off the heat.
- Grab a large mixing bowl and add in your ground pork, soy sauce, salt, sugar, chicken bouillon powder, ground black pepper, vegetable oil, corn starch and the cooked onions, shallots and garlic.(Optional) you can add in 1 egg if you want as well for more flavor.Mix everything together.
- Then using your hands, grab a small portion of the mixture and mold it into a ball shape. Then place it onto a plate. Repeat this step until you have used up all of the mixture and made them all into meat balls.
- Using your favorite steaming method, steam the meatballs for up to 20 minutes or until they are fully cooked. Once they have finished steaming, turn off the heat and set the meatballs aside.
Making The Sauce
- Using a wok or pan, pour some oil into it over medium-high heat.Once the oil is hot enough, add in your minced garlic and chopped green onions. Stir things around and cook them for a minute or so until they are fragrant.
- Add in your diced tomatoes, sugar, chicken bouillon powder, salt and tomato paste. Stir everything around and cook for a minute or so.
- Then pour in your 1 cup of water into the mixture and continue to stir things around. Let it cook for another minute or two.After that, transfer your meatballs into the pan and cook it together with the tomato sauce. Lower the heat to medium, and let it simmer for around 10 minutes.
- Once time is up, grab a small bowl and make your starch slurry. This will consist of the 2 teaspoons of corn starch and 1 tablespoon of water. Then mix it together and pour it straight into the tomato sauce.Continue to stir things around until the sauce has started to thicken.
- Turn off the heat.Serve immediately.
Did you try making my Xiu Mai / Vietnamese Meatballs In Tomato Sauce? If so, how were they? I would love to hear all about it down in the comment section below or you can connect with my on Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram.
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