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Xiu Mai in a plate
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5 from 5 votes

Xiu Mai (Vietnamese Meatballs in Tomato Sauce)

Xiu Mai is Vietnam's holy grail for moist meatballs in a sweet and tangy tomato sauce. Say hello to the easiest baguette stuffing!
Prep Time35 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Total Time1 hr 25 mins
Course: Appetizer, Breakfast, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Vietnamese
Servings: 16 meatballs
Calories: 163kcal
Author: Jeannette


  • Clean cloth
  • Steamer


For The Meatballs

  • 500 g / 1.1 lb pork mince
  • 100 g / 0.22 lb jicama
  • 15 g / 0.03 lb red shallots (finely chopped)
  • 1 red onion (finely chopped)
  • 5 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon powder
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt (for blanching jicama)
  • 2 US cup water (for blanching jicama)
  • 3 tbsp oil (for cooking aromatics)
  • 1 tbsp oil (for mixing into mince)
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp potato starch

For The Tomato Sauce

  • 5 tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2 sprig spring onion (roughly chopped)
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 tsp sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp chicken bouillon powder
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 US cup water
  • starch slurry (1 tbsp potato starch mixed with 2 tbsp water)
  • coriander (for garnishing)


For The Meatballs

  • Cut the jicama into thin strips, roughly 5mm (0.2") thick.
  • Bring 2 US cup water to a boil with 1/2 tsp salt. Blanch the jicama strips for 3 minutes or until softened, then set aside in a colander to drip dry.
    Note: If you prefer your Xiu Mai with crunchier jicama, take it out sooner. Likewise, if you prefer softer daikon then cook it for longer.
  • Heat up a small saucepan with the oil and cook the red onion, shallots and garlic on medium heat for 3 minutes or until brown. Let it cool.
  • Use a cloth to squeeze the water out of the jicama, then roughly chop them into small pieces and set aside.
  • Combine the pork mince with the salt, sugar, chicken bouillon powder, pepper, browned aromatics (including its oil) and potato starch.
  • Mix in the chopped jicama.
  • Mix in the egg and 1 tbsp oil.
  • Set up a steamer to a boil. Meanwhile, roll the mince into balls, roughly 4cm (1.6") wide.
    Tip: If the pork is stick to your hands, dip your palm in some oil to stop the mince from sticking.
  • Steam the meatballs for 20 minutes or until 90% cooked, then set aside.

The Tomato Sauce

  • Lightly score an X at the top of the tomato to the bottom using a knife.
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the tomatoes for 5 minutes. Scoop the tomatoes out and gently peel the skin off.
  • Dice the tomatoes and leave aside.
    Note: If you prefer your Xiu Mai sauce chunkier, leave the pieces diced. If you like it runnier, use a food processor to puree the tomatoes.
  • Roughly chop the spring onions.
  • Heat up a saucepan with the oil on medium heat and brown the garlic and spring onions for 1 minute.
  • Pour the diced tomatoes in and stir for 1 minute. Season with sugar, salt, chicken bouillon powder and tomato paste. Stir for 2 minutes.
  • Turn the heat up to high and pour the water into the pot. Stir until combined.
  • Scoop the meatballs into the tomato sauce and mix, then simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Turn the heat to medium, mix the starch slurry until it forms a liquid and stir it into the sauce to thicken.
  • Serve the Xiu Mai immdiately with rice, noodles or Vietnamese baguettes!


  • Use fattier pork. The more fat there is, the juicier the bite will be.
  • If you prefer leaner ground pork, opt for the lean version or choose the cut you like and ask the butcher to mince it for you.
  • Avoid overworking the mince. This will result in a tougher meatball, which will not be fall apart tender!
  • Adjust the sauce to your liking. If you prefer a thinner sauce, dilute it with more water or hold off on the starch slurry. Likewise, if you like your sauce on the thicker side, use less water or be more generous with the slurry.
  • You want firm and and ripe tomatoes for the best flavor. Not only will they hold better when boiling, but you'll have a much richer taste in the sauce.


Calories: 163kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 390mg | Potassium: 241mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 386IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 1mg