Main Dishes

My History with the Ball of Meat (and Asian Ginger Meatballs)

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Looking back at the recipe archives, my love affair with meatballs becomes readily apparent. An intimate connection with meatballs is not the single most romantic food-relationship (the way an affair with Brie cheese or braised lamb shanks might be), but somehow, some way, meatballs will always capture my heart, if only because they remind me of home and my humble cookery beginnings.

I’m sure other new cooks (and old cooks, since we were all green once) can empathize with a familiar situation. You decide to take control of your food. You plunge into cooking for yourself. You have success with a couple of side dishes. And then…you have to tackle meat. Raw meat. I remember being scared out of my wits of a whole chicken or a large beef roast. So I began with one of the cheapest and least identifiable cuts: ground meat (much less scary).

My family has never been huge meatball-makers. Our spaghetti was always accompanied by a simple tomato sauce (which I adore and hope to share). Additionally, as a culinary student, I wasn’t feeling up to breaking down anything with a) bones or b) an identifiable body part, so ground meat, and then meatballs, were a natural progression. The first meatball recipe I ever tried was Sarah’s from Everyday Paleo. I will never forget the looks of shock on my family’s faces when they realized I had cooked something not only edible, but delicious. Thus, the love affair was born.

Meatballs and I have done a lot together. We’ve tried different sauces, or gone sauce-less all together. We’ve made our way through France and the Middle East season-ing wise, culminating with my love of the cinnamon-cumin meatball. We’ve thrown dinner parties together, we’ve fed my closest friends, and recently we even ventured into soup. It’s been a long and satisfying journey.

The meatball recipe below arose from necessity, convenience, and a slight bout of homesickness. It seems I may never make it back to Texas this summer (for exciting reasons soon to be revealed!). My mother is Chinese and cooks with a lot of ginger and soy sauce. Whenever I’m home we make meatballs together. So Voila, Asian Ginger Meatballs.

Asian Ginger Meatballs

1 lb ground pork

2 young spring onions (a couple of green onions or scallions will also suffice)

1 clove garlic

2 tsp minced ginger

1 egg

1 tsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat the cooking-machine to 375 degrees. Dice your onions and combine with garlic, ginger, seasonings, and egg in a large bowl.

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Break the package of ground pork into the bowl. Mix with your hands until just incorporated. Form into adorable little golf-sized balls and place in a baking dish or cast-iron pan.

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Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cooked through. Enjoy over rice, in vegetable broth, or perched on a bed of rice noodles and topped with chopped green onions. Let the Asian flavors of a European classic whisk you away!

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Note: There’s no sauce because these meatballs really do stand on their own. I will be experimenting with smaller versions of them in an Asian broth soup soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

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