Little known fact about Ren: She speaks three languages.
For those of you who know her, English and Tagalog you already knew about. But were you aware that she’s fluent in a third language as well? It’s true. She speaks this cryptic, nearly indecipherable language that I like to call, “Mumblish.”
It’s a strange vernacular, this Mumblish. She only speaks it whenever she’s upset with me, and in a barely audible tone I might add. She won’t use it when she’s close, preferring instead to speak it when I’m a distance away, but still within earshot so I can catch a few words but not the entire sentence. What’s even stranger than this Mumblish however, is that despite my inability to speak it, I always seem to understand what she’s saying.
Here’s an example:
“psh psshh psh ppssh pshh don’t listen psssh psh pshhh pshh pshh selfish pssshh psh pshhhh whatever psshsh pshh psh phssshhh sorry sorry ka diyan pshhhshh psh psh pshhshh jerk psh psshhh pshhhsh psh psh…”
Catch my drift?
Having been banished to the doghouse recently for being a stupid, insensitive caveman, I frequently heard her speaking in Mumblish again, to which I learned to reply in MY own tongue, one that I like to call “HimasHimasish”* or “Buyhergiftsish.”
Her heart softening, she eventually invited me out of the doghouse with a bowl of these refreshingly delicious shrimp and pork meatball wraps. Painstakingly working all afternoon to prepare this Vietnamese-inspired peace offering, it’s a lovely, summery dish that she likes to describe as light, fun, and vociferous with flavor.
Now she’s talking. 😉
*Himas, in Tagalog, means “to caress or massage.”
Lice a taco or a shawarma, you load up the lettuce leaf with one or two shredded meatballs, some carrots, radish, green onions and cilantro.
Roll it up, dip in sauce, and engorge. You’re supposed to roll it up tighter than this so the components don’t fall out, but that wouldn’t have made for a very interesting picture now would it? 😉
For the Meatballs
- 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
- 2 green onions, minced
- 2 Tbsps minced cilantro
- 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup finely chopped napa cabbage
- 1/2 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
- 1/2 pound peeled, deveined shrimp, tails removed, finely chopped
- 1/4 pound ground pork
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
For the Dipping Sauce
- 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsps sugar
- 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 Tbsp Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc mam)
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha red chili sauce
- About 20 medium butter lettuce leaves (from 2 heads)
- 1/2 cup finely shredded daikon radish, preferably shredded with a mandoline
- 1/2 cup finely shredded carrot, preferably shredded with a mandoline
- 1/4 cup finely shredded green onions (optional)
- Cilantro (optional)
- To make sauce, stir together all ingredients in bowl until sugar dissolves. Set aside.
- To make meatballs*, combine egg white, onions, cilantro, ginger, pepper, salt, and cabbage in large bowl. Stir in panko. Add shrimp and pork, breaking up with your fingers, then mix well with your hands. Chill for about 15 minutes until mixture is firm enough to shape. Roll meat mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls with your wet hands.
- Heat oil in heavy 12-inch frying pan (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat. Cook meatballs until well browned all over, turning as needed, for a total of 8 to 10 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to paper towels to dry, then to platter.
- Serve with lettuce leaves, dipping sauce, daikon and carrot.
*Tips when making meatballs:
- Do not overhandle meatballs. When mixing, add in meat only after you’ve already mixed the bread crumbs, liquids and seasonings. Stop when mixture looks evenly blended. Do NOT overwork!
- When rolling meat mixture into balls, dampen your hands with cold water to keep them from sticking. If they’re still sticky, let them sit for a few minutes in the fridge.
- Remember that a good crust formed from browning will help meatballs retain their shape. This is important if they’re going to simmer in a thick sauce. If you plan to eat them on their own or add them to a broth, then a light pan-frying will be best.
DID YOU KNOW?
That the world record for the world’s largest meatball was set, and broken, several times in 2009?
First set in Mexico in August with a meatball weighing 49.4 kg (109 pounds), it was broken just a month later in Los Angeles when late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel helped set the record weight at 90 kg (198.6 pounds), nearly double its predecessor. Later in October, an Italian eatery in Concord, New Hampshire would break it yet again, setting the new record at 101 kg (222.5 pounds). Talk about getting the ball rolling!
Since then, the record has been broken several times, with the most recent record set in October 2011 by the Italian Club in Columbus, Ohio, for their mammoth 504.77 kg (1,110.5 pounds) spicy monstrosity.
JB and Renée are the Traveleaters behind Will Fly for Food, a travel blog for the gastronomically inclined. They enjoy experiencing food from different cultures so they’ve made it their mission to try every country’s national dish. Read more about them and their National Dish Quest here.