Jin lung are a local type of meatball, rich in fresh herbs and often yellow in colour from the addition of ground turmeric. They’re most commonly made from pork, but beef and fish versions can be found on occasion. In Mae Hong Son’s morning market, they’re sold in Indian-style pots in a generous amount of yellow cooking oil. When ordered, two or four (the serving sizes are really small) are bagged up with a drizzle of the oil and some deep-fried crispy garlic.






Skill level

Average: 3.7 (17 votes)


  • 500 g minced (ground) pork
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 3 tomatoes, seeded, thinly sliced
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • fried crisp garlic and steamed rice, to serve

Chilli paste

  • 10 small dried chillies
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 6 French shallots, sliced
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 12 small garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tbsp shrimp paste
  • 1 tsp salt

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


To make the chilli paste, using a mortar and pestle, pound the dried chillies until coarse. Add the coriander seeds, shallots, lemongrass, garlic, shrimp paste and salt, and pound until you have a fine paste.

To make the meatballs, add the pork, turmeric and tomatoes to the chilli paste mixture. Using the mortar and pestle, pound to blend the mixture thoroughly and tenderize the pork – the mixture should have fine, silky texture and the ingredients should be thoroughly amalgamated. When you have reached this texture, add the eggs, stirring with a spoon to combine thoroughly.

Heat a generous amount of oil in a wok over medium heat. Form one small ball of the meatball mixture and test in the oil; if the oil is too hot, the meatballs will be cooked on the outside but will still be raw inside. Form the remaining meatball mixture into balls, then deep-fry, in batches, over low heat until meatballs are cooked inside and golden outside – this should take a few minutes.

Drizzle the jin lung with a bit of the oil and serve with fried crisp garlic and steamed rice.


Recipe from austinbushphotography.com by Austin Bush, with photographs by Austin Bush.