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I wrote last Saturday about how to make xiu mai, or Vietnamese meatballs. But, as I said in the diary, I was roundly scolded by both my Vietnamese BF and his mom for making what they saw as an unauthentic recipe. Xiu mai, I was told, is traditionally prepared in a tomato sauce, not nuoc mac, or caramel sauce. One of the many benefits of being in an intercultural relationship is learning how to make new foods you've never made before. You also learn that the recipe you randomly pulled from the Internet is not particularly authentic. #WhitePeopleProblems

Today, I got a hankering for xiu mai, so I decided to make it again--only more along the lines of the way you're supposed to make it, in a nice tomato sauce. Last time, I made them as an appetizer, but this time around, I'm making them for the purpose of preparing banh mi xiu mai, or a Vietnamese meatball sandwich. Or maybe two, because I'm kinda hungry. Don't worry, this time I vetted the recipe (which I found here) with the BF's mom, and she approves. Follow me below the misshapen meatball...

We're starting out, as we did last time, with some ground pork. I'm using 1-1/2 pounds. Put the pork in a large bowl.

Mince some green onion and jicama. We'll need about 3/4 cup of each. (Yes, I'm actually using real onions this time...I hope I don't regret this!) While you're at it, chop up one green onion for the tomato sauce and set it aside.

Add the green onion and jicama to the ground pork, along with 2 eggs, 5 cloves of minced garlic, 3/4 tablespoon cornstarch, 3/4 tablespoon flour, 3/4 tablespoon fish sauce, 3/4 tablespoon soy sauce, 3/4 tablespoon sugar, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

Mix it all up.

Form the meat mixture into 2-inch balls. I got 21, which leaves me a taste-test meatball and 20 for sandwich-making.

You're supposed to steam the meatballs, but I don't have a steamer or a metal colander suitable for steaming. So I'm just going to have to bake them. I'll bake them at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes, or until they're cooked through.

Now it's time to make the sauce. In a bowl, add 12 ounces canned tomato sauce, 3/4 cup water, 3/4 tablespoon cornstarch, 3/4 tablespoon sugar, 3/4 tablespoon soy sauce, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, and light sprinklings of garlic powder, onion powder, and ground ginger.

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Stir it up.

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In a saucepan or small pot, heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil and cook 1 clove of garlic and the onion you chopped earlier for about 30 seconds.

Add the sauce mixture and stir until thickened.

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Now that our meatballs and tomato sauce are done, it's time to actually make this xiu mai into banh mi xiu mai. I wrote about how to prepare banh mi here, but the basic ingredients you'll need, in addition to the meat of course, are: a petite baguette roll (I couldn't find them today in the supermarket, so I'm improvising), a cucumber slice (I'm not using one because I honestly can't stand cucumber), fresh cilantro, and do chua, or pickled daikon and carrots.

The diary I wrote about banh mi also explains how to make do chua, but today, I'm just using pickled carrots. To be perfectly honest, the smell of daikon is so completely and utterly foul that I have vowed to never use it again. I actually had to throw away the jars I used to make do chua before. Daikon smells like it came from Satan's toilet, and that's putting it mildly. And in most banh mi shops, you will only get pickled carrots anyway. So we're sticking with carrots in this diary.

You should prepare the pickled carrots the day before, but if you don't, it's no big deal, as long as they have several hours to pickle. Basically, you just need to julienne about two or three very large carrots into matchsticks. Put the carrots in a large bowl and sprinkle 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt over them. Knead them with your hands for about 3 minutes. That should squeeze quite a bit of water out of the carrots. Drain them and put them in jars. Fill the jars with brine, made by combining 1 cup of water, 1-1/4 cups of vinegar, and 1/2 cup of sugar. Voi la!

Finally, refrigerate, preferably over night, but at least for several hours. Pickled carrots should last a few weeks.

To make the sandwich, split your roll down the middle.

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Add some meatballs. The recipe I'm basing this diary on says to cut them in half, but eff that noise. This is Texas!

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Cover the meatballs with the yummy tomato sauce.

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Add some pickled carrots and cilantro.

And there you have it: banh mi xiu mai. I have to say, as much as I liked my unauthentic recipe, I like this one much more. Bon appétit! Or, I should say, "Chúc mọi người ăn ngon miệng!"

Kitchen Table Kibitzing is a community series for those who wish to share part of the evening around a virtual kitchen table with kossacks who are caring and supportive of one another. So bring your stories, jokes, photos, funny pics, music, and interesting videos, as well as links—including quotations—to diaries, news stories, and books that you think this community would appreciate.

Finally, readers may notice that most who post diaries and comments in this series already know one another to some degree, but newcomers should not feel excluded. We welcome guests at our kitchen table, and hope to make some new friends as well.

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