Though this recipe does require a little bit of time and patience, it is easy to do. Whether you’re cooking for one, a family or a party, the effort will be very much worth it. Light in flavor and texture, pork has never tasted so refreshing. Lemongrass is featured prominently again here, as it often is in many Thai and Indonesian soups and stews. This soup can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week and still taste remarkably fresh. The meatballs (in their raw form) can also be kept frozen for several months.
Serves 4 to 6
25 ounces dry cellophane noodles
4 cups water
5 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons lemongrass finely minced and 1 whole stalk
8 cloves garlic
1 pound ground pork
1 3/4 tablespoons fish sauce
3/4 teaspoon paprika
3 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Juice of 1/2 a lime
2 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
Cilantro for garnishing
Soak dry cellophane noodles in warm water for 30 minutes; drain thoroughly and set aside.
In a medium sized pot, bring water, vegetable broth and salt to a hard boil on high heat. Once the broth has come to boil, reduce to medium heat and continue simmering.
Rinse the stalk of lemongrass and trim off the bottom end. Using a meat pounder carefully bruise the stalk until it just slightly flattens and breaks open. This step is crucial to extracting the aromatic flavors of lemongrass in as short a time as possible. Chop the stalk into 2 or 3 pieces and drop into the simmering broth. Cover the pot.
In a food processor, combine the garlic and minced lemongrass, pulsing a few times until they’re all finely minced. Add the ground pork, drained noodles, fish sauce, paprika, sugar, lime juice and egg. Pulse a few times until everything is thoroughly mixed and smooth. Place the mixture into a mixing bowl and add the cornstarch, mixing with a spoon or hands.
Dust your hands lightly with cornstarch or flour. Taking about a large spoonful of the pork mixture into your palms, roll gently until a ball is formed. Drop gently into simmering broth. Repeat this until all the pork mixture is used. Stoves vary from one manufacturer to another so it’s imperative that the broth is on a heat setting that allows it to simmer gently while placing the pork balls in. If the broth is boiling too vigorously, the pork balls will dry out on the inside and some might even break apart. Conversely, if the broth isn’t simmering at all, the balls won’t cook properly and you’ll have raw meat. The balls are done within just a few minutes and typically float to the surface of the soup.
Serve hot with sprigs of cilantro to garnish.