Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lunchbox-Friendly Asian-Inspired Meatballs

Who doesn't love meatballs?

This is a rift on a recipe I spotted on Tasting Table. Being a student, I try to make and pack lunch each day (key word: TRY). So I’m always on the lookout for packable meal-makings that are versatile, low-carb (I can’t fall asleep in my afternoon classes!), and flavorful.

These fit the bill.

The original recipe calls for gochujang, a Korean chili sauce, and pork. Now, in the Upper Valley, I have yet to discover an Asian market. Moreover, most Asian sauces have modified food starch or gluten of some sorts that I’m to avoid. So screw the chili sauce. I swapped in my favorite ground turkey from a local farm, and added a bunch more garlic, ginger, scallion, and soy to boost flavor. Mirin gives the meatballs a delicate sweetness to go along with the much-needed umami and seasoning from the tamari (and now that I write this, I think back to my other sweet-savory meatball concoction starring spinach, currants, and pine nuts…mmm).

I don’t know why I didn’t make meatballs more often in DUMBO. Oh, right. I was in a studio and I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not have my bed smelling like what I made for dinner the night before. Yeah. Not cool, says my inner OCD person. Anyways, making these here in my 4-bedroom house? SO easy.

The recipe below yields about 40 meatballs (about 1-1 ½ inches in diameter), more than a little me can eat in a week. So I kept 15 out for lunch, and froze the rest. Be sure to cook off a little meatball before you cook them all so you can taste for seasoning.

They’re great served with rice noodles, peppers, and peanut sauce – or, as I do, over roasted vegetables. My go-to lunch these days. Perfect for lunchboxes (no one is ever too old for a lunchbox). Oh, and they’re completely gluten-free!

Asian-Inspired Meatballs
Adapted from a recipe by Rachel Yang of Joule in Seattle, WA, published on Tasting Table

1 pound ground turkey (half regular meat, half dark meat - you could also use ground beef)
6 scallions, finely chopped
¼ cup mirin rice wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more as desired
5 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled (use the edge of a teaspoon to scrape off the skin) and finely chopped or grated
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large bowl, stir together the meat, scallions, mirin, soy sauce, garlic and ginger until combined (the mixture will be very wet). Use your hands to roll the mixture into 1½-inch meatballs. Place on foil-lined baking sheet.

In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, add the oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the meatballs (cook the meatballs in batches if necessary). Cook until browned, about 2-3 minutes. Turn the meatballs over and brown the other side, 2 to 3 minutes longer, and then transfer them to a rimmed baking sheet.

Place the meatballs in the oven and bake until they resist light pressure and are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel to drain and serve hot if possible.

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