Lao Meatballs are a delightful find for the longer term traveller or the traveller who would like a more familiar food for a change but even better as a delicious surprise of the expected-unexpected flavours of Lao. The traditional ingredients are still there but less definite and can almost be a hint rather than the familiar strong flavours of many Lao dishes. It is a traditional food and  a copied recipe from Vietnamese Xiu Mai with roots from China, but still a traditional dish.

It is generally enjoyed as a plate within a banquet selection but also goes so well as an appetiser or savoury canape with a pre-dinner drink. These are only found in the Lao menu and not  that I've seen in the Thai cuisine or Chinese cuisine restaurants in the busier traveller's dining restaurants.


  • 3 Kg (7 lb) Ground pork
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) Fresh ginger (minced)
  • 240 ml (1 cup) Cilantro stems (chopped)
  • 240 ml (1 cup) Green onion (sliced)
  • 6 Eggs (beaten)
  • 1 1/2 tsp MSG (optional)
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) Cilantro leaf (chopped)
  • 2 stalks Lemon grass (slice)
  • 1 head Garlic (minced)
  • 1/8 cup* Red chillie (sliced). *The amount of chillie is a cooks personal choice and works very well with the smallest amount of chillie if preferred
  • 1/2 tsp Salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper (adjust to taste)
  • Oil for deep frying


  1. In a mixing bowl, mix the salt, pepper, MSG and chillie plus a Tbsp hot water to the minced ginger and allow to stand a few minutes.
  2. Transfer the meat to the bowl  and mix all the ingredients together.
  3. Add cilantro, lemon grass, green onion, garlic, mien cilantro and eggs and mix well
  4. Mold small meat balls about 2.5 cm (1 in) in diameter
  5. Deep fry about 10 or 20 meat balls in oil and fry for about 5 minutes
  6. Drain well and serve with rice or with +/- mini skewers,  if served as a canape. Easy as finger food also.
I enjoy these squashed and spread on a fresh crispy Lao baguette with a little Jeow Bong, some strips of scallion and pickled carrot and daikon.

Lao Meatball canapes:

  1. Mince a few of the cooked meatballs into a workable paste.
  2. On small pieces of toasted baguette or oven dried bread, spread a very small amount of a chicken liver pate.
  3. Then spread a substantial amount of the meatball mince.
  4. Garnish with short strips of scallion, pickled carrot and pickled daikon.
  5. Sprinkle with a very light dusting of freshly ground black pepper.
  6. Serve with drinks.