There are countless Food Days around the world. But did you know the March 9 is a day to celebrate the meatball?
That’s right –It’s International Meatball Day!
Meatballs with all sorts of names can be found everywhere from northern Europe to New York City, Copenhagen, China to Vietnam. Swedish people are famous for their meatballs, called köttbullar. They are often served with gravy, along with boiled potato and a special lingonberry sauce.
One of Denmark’s most popular foods is a small, pan-fried meatball made of minced pork. Danes call it frikadeller. These meatballs are found in many countries were Danes have immigrated or colonized. In the United States, Italian-American meatballs are generally bigger than those found in Italy. They usually make them with ground beef, pork, turkey, or a combination of meats and served with tomato sauce and pasta or spaghetti.
Italians themselves have a much different kind of meatball. Their traditional polpette are small. The kind of meat used to make the polpette depends on which part of Italy you are in.
Asian countries have many kinds of meatballs: served deep-fried, steamed or in the soup. One type of meatball found in China is called Lion’s Head. It is a large, soft meatball made of finely cut pork. And they are often served with cabbage.
Vietnamese meatballs are called bò viên, is made with minced beef, pork or chicken. They are especially chewy and springy, commonly served in a bowl of Vietnamese pho.
One of Indonesian staple food – the Indonesian meatball called bakso. Bakso vendors can be found in most of the busiest Indonesian city streets. For many years, there has been a health stigma against Bakso vendors, since additives such as Borax and MSG are commonly found in the beef balls or broth they’re served in. But in their natural form of bakso is both delicious and healthy.
All beef balls found in Southeast Asia, Canton and overseas Chinese communities which was originated by Teochew people. The ball is made of beef that has finely pulverized, other ground meat such as pork may be the ingredients of the beef balls. They are easily identified from fish balls due to their darker colour. Another characteristic is the tiny pieces of the tendon in each ball with dissolve with prolonged slow cooking.
All meatballs that are made in Asia differ significantly in texture to their counterparts with European origins. Instead of mincing and forming meat, the meat used for making meatballs is pounded until the meat is more or less pulverized. The Chinese meatball style, compared with the Western version, which has stayed true to the original recipe throughout the centuries, the Chinese meatball comes in all sizes, flavours and textures.
The texture is everything – a superb pork meatball or a beef ball must have a springy bite and the potential to bounce off the wall. Traditionally, the bouncy meatball that is literally hammered into a paste. The rhythmic pounding will go on for an hour or so, and the meat turns to paste under the bludgeoning force of the rolling pins. Occasionally, the chef will stop his assault to add a sprinkle of brine and a dusting of sweet potato starch and finally mixed with melted beef fat.
In NamNam Singapore, we are using minced beef forequarter cut, typically cattle of Bos Taurus or Bos Indicus for our meatballs (bò viên), and the beef balls are produced with German technology, under strictly controlled conditions with fully automated facilities.