Vietnamese Style Grilled Chicken Meatballs with Cold Noodle Salad & Nuoc Mam Dressing

By Poh Ling Yeow
Serves  4
Preparation   30 mins + overnight for marinade & pickling
Cooking   15 mins
Print recipe


Pickles (Must be prepared 1 day ahead of time)
Pickling liquid 

  • 2 cups rice vinegar or white vinegar 
  • 2 cups sugar


  • 350g white or red cabbage
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthways, sliced thinly on a diagonal
  • 1/2 large continental cucumber, quartered lengthways, seeds sliced off and discarded, cut diagonally into 3mm slices
  • 1tsp salt

Meatballs (Must be prepared 1 day ahead of time)

  • 1kg Lilydale Free Range Chicken Mince
  • 1/2 head of garlic, peeled, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup self raising flour
  • 1 Tbs fish sauce
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 130g caster sugar
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • Any vegetable based oil for greasing

Nuoc Mam

  • 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped 
  • 1 bird’s eye chilli, finely chopped
  • 50ml lime or lemon juice
  • 50ml rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • 2 Tbs caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

Bits & Pieces

  • 1 large bunch each of Thai basil, coriander & mint (laksa leaf is also a good one!)
  • 1/4 iceberg lettuce, finely shredded
  • 500g rice vermicelli, soaked in water for 30 minutes, blanched in boiling water until al dente, drained in a colander


  1. To make the pickling liquid, heat the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool completely before using.
  2. To make the pickles, toss the cut vegetables and salt with clean hands. Spread them in a colander and refrigerate uncovered for a minimum of 4 hours but overnight will give you the best crunch. In a few batches, spread salted vegetables between 2 clean tea towels, and press firmly to remove excess moisture. Transfer them into a jar or container and cover with the cooled pickling liquid. Allow to pickle in the fridge overnight.
  3. To make the meatballs, combine all meatball ingredients, except the vegetable oil, in a large bowl and mix well with gloved hands. Cover with cling film and allow to marinate overnight in the fridge.
  4. Using wet gloved hands, roll portions into balls slightly smaller than a golf ball until all the mixture is used up. Thread 3 balls carefully onto skewers and BBQ on an open grill until slightly charred. If you don’t have an open grill, you can grill them in the oven - they just won’t have that signature smokey flavour, but still very delicious. 
  5. To make the Nuoc Mam Dressing, combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside until needed.
  6. To serve, place all the elements at the centre of the table for diners to help themselves, starting with the lettuce and noodles as a base, the meatballs and pickles on top, then the dressing and herbs to taste.