I have yet to find anyone who is not a fan of meatballs; it is a dish that can span the generations and unite a family at dinner time. What I love about meatballs is how versatile they can be. They are perfect for experimenting with different flavour combinations and you can be instantly transported around the globe with the addition of just a few herbs and spices here and there.
Whilst the traditional meatball with tomato sauce is a classic and much loved by many (myself included) there are countless ways to enjoy meatballs from a Japanese ramen type broth to a Middle Eastern tagine there is a role for meatballs in pretty much every cuisine. For today’s recipe I have gone for a Thai inspired dish. Those of you who are regular readers will know that I love the flavours of Asia and for me, it was the first thing that came into my mind when I thought about creating a new meatball inspired dish.
Whilst I did consider a fiery curry sauce to go with this dish I decided that I wanted something a little more elegant and wanted to go beyond the usual Thai sauce options involving coconut milk. Don’t get me wrong I adore a well flavoured coconut curry sauce but I wanted to try out something different. Whenever I visit Thailand I love experimenting with the local street food and this is where I got the inspiration for my sticky sauce; something which is easy to eat on the go whilst being simple to make and brings out those strong Thai flavours.
The meatballs are deliciously tasty on their own, I made a batch to keep in the fridge just to have as snacks, but they are elevated to a new level once you add the sticky sauce; add the garnish of coriander, chilli and spring onions and the dish is finished off perfectly. The meatballs are full of the freshness you would expect in Thai cooking and then the sauce brings those familiar flavours of hot, sweet and salty to set your tastebuds alight. You could even finish off with a sprinkling of sesame seeds to add a bit of crunch. For me this is a meal that I never want to end and I would almost certainly be going back for more.
A few notes for the sticky sauce…
I use coconut sugar and water to make a syrup as the base of the sauce but you could use honey instead if you prefer. If you wanted to eliminate the sticky sauce altogether you could serve the meatballs with a Thai inspired dipping sauce instead. Take a look at my previous post for Salmon Fishcakes for a great sweet chilli dipping sauce recipe.
The sauce will start to thicken and turn sticky after about 4-5 minutes cooking and if you leave it to cook for too long it will start to turn into a syrup so make sure you keep an eye on it. It will thicken on standing so make sure you get the meatballs in to coat as soon as the sauce comes off the heat.
There should be enough to make 16-20 meatballs depending on how large you make them. I tend to aim for just under the size of a golf ball. I find that this to be the perfect size for keeping the meatball tender and juicy.
Servings: 2 people
- For the meatballs:
- 500g pork mince
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
- 2 inches fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 1 lemongrass stalk, outer layers removed and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
- ½ lime, juice only
- 2 tbsp lard
- For the sticky sauce:
- 4 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp coconut aminos
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar
- 4 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 2 lime, juice only
- 2 tbsp water
- To serve:
- 2 tbsp coriander, roughly chopped
- 4 spring onions, sliced diagonally
- 2 red chillies, sliced
- Mix the meatball ingredients (except the lard) in a bowl until combined.
- Break off small sections and roll into meatballs; a bit smaller than a golf ball.
- You should get 16-20 meatballs depending on size.
- Place onto a tray or plate and put into the fridge for 30 minutes to set.
- Heat the lard in a large frying pan over a medium to high heat.
- Add the meatballs and cook for 8-10 minutes (or until cooked).
- Make sure you keep turning the meatballs so that they brown evenly.
- To make the sauce place the coconut sugar and water over a low-medium heat.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes and then add the remaining sauce ingredients.
- Cook for a further 5-6 minutes, the sauce should be gently bubbling and starting to thicken.
- You can add more water to loosen the sauce if it thickens too much (tbsp at a time).
- Stir the meatballs into the sauce to coat and then place on a bed of Cauliflower Rice.
- Add the chopped coriander, chilli and spring onions to garnish.
**You can alter the sauce for you own personal preferences. To make it sweeter add some more sugar (or honey); saltier some more fish sauce and sour some more lime juice.
***When making the sticky sauce it is best to heat through slowly to avoid turning it into a syrup. If it does go too thicken then add some cold water and stir; then slowly heat again.
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