For the longest time, I’ve been experimenting to formulate a vegetarian meatball recipe that isn’t either mushy, tasteless or falls apart before my fork even touches it. After 2 weeks of failed recipes, I finally managed to get it right. So what did I do with this achievement? I whipped up a quick sweet and sour sauce, bathed the meatballs in the rich flavours and stuffed them in a sandwich. How’s that for a celebration?
I’m not even going to say much today because I want this sandwich to speak for itself. I spoke about the tendency of plant based diets to be deficient in umami flavours when I made these vegan burgers, and I hit the jackpot in that savoury goodness category with these meatballs. The tartness of the pickled carrots helps to compliment the flavours and the jalapeno pepper gives the sandwich that extra boost. And the fact that there’s no meat in them is anything but a disadvantage. What are you waiting for, get in the kitchen and make these!
Bành Mí Style Vegan Meatball Subs
For the meatballs:
- 1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
- 250g white button mushrooms
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1×14 oz can chickpeas or 2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
- ½ cup cooked quinoa (¼ cup dry quinoa boiled in ½ cup water for 15 mins)
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- a thumb of ginger, grated
- ¾ cup plain flour
For the sauce:
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 3 tbsp tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped (optional)
For the pickled veggies:
- 2 tbsp castor sugar
- 2 tbsp salt
- 200 ml white vinegar
- 300ml water
- 2 medium carrots, julienned
- ½ a white onion, sliced thinly
For the subs:
- about 4 tbsp vegannaise or mayonnaise if not vegan
- 1 tsp of your favourite chilli sauce/Sriracha
- ½ a cucumber, sliced
- a handful of fresh cilantro
- 3-4 jalapeno peppers, sliced (optional)
- 1 fresh baguette
- Start by pickling the carrots and onion. In a measuring jug, dissolve the sugar and salt in the vinegar before making the solution up to the 500ml mark with the water. Dump the carrots and onion in a 500ml glass jar and pour the pickling liquid over the veggies until the jar is full. Refrigerate for at least an hour before use. Will keep up to a month in the fridge.
- Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and fry the onions until translucent, about 2 minutes. Throw in the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are browned and cooked through. Pour in the soy sauce and add the chopped garlic and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Add the mushroom onion mixture, chickpeas, quinoa, parsley and ginger to a food processor and pulse until a thick meal forms, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and use a rubber spatula to incorporate into the meatball mix. Grab a tablespoon of the mixture and shape into a ball. Repeat until you’ve used up all the mixture. I get between 15 and 18 meatballs every time I make this. It’s also easier to shape the meatballs with your hands if you wet them with a bit of cold water first. Refrigerate the meatballs for at least 20 minutes before cooking but you could leave them overnight if desired
- Whilst the meatballs are chilling, make the sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and whisk well to combine. Bring the sauce to a boil before reducing the heat and allowing it to simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Cook the meatballs by either frying them in a hot frying pan on all sides until crispy (which will take you about 7 minutes per batch) or baking them in an oven preheated to 180°C for 30 minutes. Once cooked, toss the meatballs with the sauce to coat.
- Assemble the subs! Start by cutting the baguette into the desired number of servings (I cut mine into 4 pieces to serve 4 people) and slicing in half. Mix together the vegannaise and the Sriracha in a ramekin and spread over the inside of the baguette. Layer with the sliced cucumber followed by the meatballs (I managed to fit 3 or 4 into mine) and finally top with the pickled carrots and onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Serve and enjoy!