Vegetarian Meatballs with a Southeast Asian Twist
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
These Southeast Asian-inspired vegetarian meatballs sound like an oxymoron but are meatless, light in texture and delicious.with a Southeastern Asian Sauce!
Recipe type: vegetarian
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: Makes 3 dozen meatballs
For the meatballs:
  • 1½ cups yellow split peas (or lentils)
  • 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 12 ounces cremini, button, or shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
  • ⅓ cup cashews, almonds or walnuts
  • 1 fresh red chili
  • ½ cup thai or sweet basil leaves
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (optional for vegetarians/vegans)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
For the dipping sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of your favorite chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  1. In a medium pot, cover the lentils with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 35-40 minutes, until they’re tender but not falling apart. Drain and allow to cool.
  2. Next, add 3 tablespoons of oil to a wok or large skillet over medium heat, and add the ginger. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and onion, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Then add the carrots, celery, and salt, and cook for another 10 minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 10 minutes or so, until all the liquid released by the vegetables has cooked off. Set aside to cool.
  4. To your blender, add the nuts, chili, basil, cilantro, mint, fish sauce and sesame oil. Pulse until the nuts and herbs have been finely chopped. Add the cooled lentils and cooked vegetable mixture. Pulse until the mixture has been incorporated, but still looks a little chunky.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and mix with the eggs and breadcrumbs. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle some olive oil on the paper.
  7. Roll the chilled vegetable mixture into golf ball sized meatballs, packing the mixture firmly. Place onto the sheet pan, with a ½ inch of space between them. Drizzle the meatballs with olive oil, and roast in the oven for 40-45 minutes, until crisp.
  8. Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce by combining all the sauce ingredients in a bowl, and serve alongside the meatballs.
Recipe by The Woks of Life at