When Mee Lan first describes these meatballs, I’m skeptical as to whether the recipe will work. She cooks all the elements separately, including the pork, and then mixes them together with cornstarch and steams. Doubtful that the components will hold together, I follow her directions. Success! The cornstarch literally glues the ingredients together. Mushrooms, dried shrimp, rice noodles, and fish sauce lace the steamed pork meatballs with flavor and lighten the texture. I prefer her version to the heavy, dense meatballs I ate in China.
Mee Lan uses the local island vegetable chayote or the traditional long Asian white radish. Chayote (also known as vegetable pear, mirliton, chocho, or chouchou) is a pale-green, pear-shaped gourd that can be found in Asian and Latino markets. In North America I’ve seen it only with smooth skin; however, it may also have prickly (though not sharp) spines. The texture of the smooth white flesh is like a cross between zucchini and cucumber, and the flavor is mild and neutral. The seed is soft and edible.
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