Thit bo vien (Vietnamese bouncy beef balls)


These bouncy meatballs, whether made from beef, pork or chicken have one thing in common – the bounce! They’re easy enough to make and doesn’t take a whole lot of time so there’s no reason to buy them from the supermarket! These balls can be found across Southeast Asia from Vietnam, China, Malaysia, Singapore, etc. The more bounce there is in the meat balls, the more appreciated they are. It’s all about the texture man! 😉

The secret to the bounce is the baking powder and whizzing the meat in the food processor until the meat is a smooth paste.

The recipe is the same as that for cha chien or Vietnamese sausage except that this version is much healthier because the meat is cooked and not deep-fried. Now I have a load of meat balls in the freezer ready for some instant noodle soups or quick stir-frys. Life is good!

The recipe given here is for beef meat balls but you can use ground chicken or ground pork. The choice is yours!


  • 500g ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons ice cold water
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/3 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder


Step 1

Add all the ingredients together in a food processor and whizz until the meat is a smooth paste.

Step 2

Wrap the meat in plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight or at least 4 hours.

Step 3

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Reduce the heat but allow the water to boil continuously.

Step 4

Remove the meat from the fridge.

Step 5

Make the meat balls. The way I was taught is to put a small amount of meat in the palm of one hand wetted with warm water and push the paste through your thumb and index finger. Use a spoon that has been wetted in water to scoop the ball. Place the meat balls on a plate that has been wetted with warm water.

Step 6

Continue until the meat is gone.

Step 7

Cook the meat balls in batches depending on how big your pot is. I usually cook 2 batches.

Step 8

Drop the meatballs into the boiling water and cook at high heat for about 4-5 minutes until the center is cooked.

Step 9

Drain the meatballs under cold running water to stop the cooking process.

Step 10

The meatballs will keep in the freezer for 2 months.

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Comments (3)

  1. posted by Sylvie on February 19, 2015

    Can I use baking soda instead of baking powder? What is the difference between the 2? Thanks.

    • posted by Phuong on February 20, 2015

      The baking powder makes the meatballs bouncy and gives them more chew. I’ve never used baking soda for this recipe. The essential ingredient here is baking powder so if you leave it out or substitute it then the meatballs won’t have the right texture which means that they’ll be something else entirely!

      • posted by Sylvie on December 15, 2016

        Got it and thank you!


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