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I’ve had Banh Mi on my mind recently.  At this point, venturing out for a Banh Mi, is foolishly indulgent, no matter how good it is.  And these are good!  Solution?  Make some for the The Latin Lover and me.  To that end, a meatloaf seemed like the place to start.  This is that meatloaf.  This one, is moist and packed to the gills, with F-L-A-V-O-R!!!  Since I was thinking of obsessing over Banh Mi, it’s logical that this meatloaf should have a Vietnamese flavor profile, right?  The Goddess, in her mental meanderings, has a tendency to come up with these sorts of things. But, this meandering paid off.  And the options with this are just so, so, so many.  But, it was delicious, the first time around, just served as meatloaf!

We’ve all made meatloaf, so you know how the prep goes.  The meatloaf ingredients are all dropped into a good-sized bowl, then simply mixed together.  You want it thoroughly mixed, but don’t overwork the mixture; it should be somewhat “loose”.  I use my hands for this.  The mixture will be quite moist and soft.  I chilled it overnight; it gives the flavors time to meld, but that isn’t essential.  However, the meat mixture should sit for a bit, before baking it.  I line a pan with foil (or shape the foil into a deep rectangle and place on a cookie sheet, as I did here.) which makes clean up much easier.  The idea here is to bake the meatloaf for about 30-40 minutes.  While it’s baking, mix up the glaze ingredients, then smear the glaze over the partially-baked meatloaf and back into the oven for another 30-40 minutes.  We want the glaze to begin to brown and caramelize, but watch it, so it doesn’t char beyond recognition.  The internal temperature should reach 150°-155°F.  Let it stand for at least 10 minutes, remove it from the pan and cut it into 1/2-inch slices.  Slice only what you are eating at that moment.  If you are planning on making banh mi,  wrap the leftover meatloaf well and chill overnight.  The meatloaf is delicious served with soy-sesame rice noodles and some veggies.  All in all, there’s lots of flavor, for the time it takes to put this together.

A couple of notes—

  • Fresh lemongrass is great, but not always available.  Buy yourself some frozen lemongrass. Good Asian markets carry it.  It does have it’s limitations, but for something like this, it works well.  You cannot pound it into a paste and fry it.  I’ve bought both thinly sliced and ground…the thinly sliced is by far better.  It’s just nice to have it in the freezer, as fresh isn’t always available.
  • Sweet Chili Sauce is a versatile ingredient…I use it as a dipping sauce, a glaze, in vinaigrettes, to add balance to Asian sauces…you get the idea.  Like I said, versatile.
  • Fish sauce (nam pla)…The best brands I’ve found are 3 Crabs® or Red Boat® brands.  I sometimes find it’s over-used, or rather too much is used.  This has a very strong flavor, but it does enhance the umami and just adds a pleasant funkiness.  It should NOT be refrigerated, as one might think.  The salt will crystallize.  Fish sauce is fermented, so it’s safe to store in a cool, dark pantry.

Vietnamese-Flavored Meatloaf

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Moderately East
  • Print

  • Meatloaf:
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork (not too lean)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3-4 tablespoons dry potato flakes
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped scallions
  • 1/3 cup very finely minced shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2-3 tablespoons fish sauce  (I used 3 Crabs® Brand)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons very finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon very finely minced lemongrass (I used frozen–see NOTE)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (I prefer Diamond® brand)
  • Pinch of 5-spice powder (optional)
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • Glaze:
  • 3 tablespoons Asian chili sauce (available in Asian aisle of most supermarkets)
  • 2 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice or rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

Mix all the meatloaf ingredients together, until combined.  I prefer to mix with my hands.  Place, covered, in the fridge for several hours (overnight is even better).  The mixture will be moist and soft-ish.

About an hour before you’re ready to serve, plop the mixture into a loaf pan. Lining the pan with heavy foil, will make clean up easier.  Bake in a 325°F oven for 40 minutes.  While the meatloaf is baking, combine the glaze ingredients.  Remove the pan from the oven; smear with the glaze.  Return the meat loaf to the oven and continue to cook for another 25-30 minutes.  The internal temperature should reach 155°F.  Remove from the oven; let stand for at least 10 minutes.  There may be quite a bit of liquid in the pan, so be careful when you’re handling it, so you don’t scald yourself.  It would be a very nasty burn, as there will be some fat in the liquid.  Remove the meatloaf from the liquid and slice into 1/2-inch thick slices.  Serve immediately.  Wrap any remaining meatloaf well and chill.  Excellent served served noodle-bowl-style with Soy-Sesame Rice Noodles, some julienned and/or steamed veggies.  The leftover meatloaf, thinly sliced, is perfect to make a banh mi sandwich or wrap.

NOTE:  Lemongrass can be purchase frozen in any large Asian market.  I prefer the thinly sliced to the minced, but either is good to have on hand.  You may shape the mixture into patties or meatballs and pan-fry or bake.

Vietnamese-Flavored Meatloaf Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2020.  All rights reserved.