5 Spice Pork Meatballs

When I'm grocery shopping, if the bean sprouts are looking fresh, I will likely grab a bag to use that evening.  I have no idea how they keep the bean sprouts fresh because after 2 days max in my refrigerator, they need to hit the compost bin.  Slimy, limp bean sprouts are a travesty. That is why I always plan for them, I hate waste.

There are a variety of Asian five spice blends but you can always recognize the licorice aroma, from either star anise, actual licorice plant or fennel.  As a child, I'd stay far away from licorice, black licorice that is.  Red licorice does not contain any actual "licorice".  It is very distinct and I have learned to appreciate it over time. I find that 5 spice blends have an aromatic sweetness to them so I like to add a little bit of salt to enhance the flavors.

This is a really easy meal to prepare but can feel time-consuming due to chopping of the vegetables. A mandolin will certainly increase the speed.  It's worth the work as this healthy meal, with it's crunch, sweet and sour from the sauce, and the flavors from the meatballs, give way to a satisfying meal, be it dinner or lunch.


5 Spice Pork Meatballs
serves 4

1 small onion, finely minced
1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
0.5 tsp salt
500 g (~1 lb) ground pork

4 servings of cooked vermicelli
2 carrots, julienne cut
1 cucumber, julienne cut
2 handfuls of bean sprouts
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped

Sweet chili sauce, diluted with rice vinegar and water, to taste


In a bowl, combine onion, 5 spice, ginger, salt and pork.  Mix until well combined. Form into meatballs.

On medium heat, add a tsp or two of oil, and cook the meatballs until browned, about 8- 10 minutes.  Cook in batches if needed to prevent overcrowding of the pan.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, layer the vermicelli, carrots, cucumber and sprouts.  Add the meatballs and top with green onions and peanuts. Serve with the sweet chili sauce on the side.