One fun way to find new meal ideas is to eat at friends’ homes.  Years ago, we went to a potluck at my friend Sarah’s house, where she served Asian Chicken Meatballs.  They were cute, uniquely shaped, chunky little bites full of flavor and paired with a slightly sweet, slightly kicky sauce.  There wasn’t one person who didn’t love them, and I promptly obtained the recipe.  With her permission, I’ll share it here with you.  It originates from her friend Takako, and is an authentic Japanese dish.

Asian Chicken Meatballs

Asian Chicken Meatballs

Ingredients

Meatballs

1 lb. ground chicken

½ T. sake (this is an Asian wine, found at a liquor store)

1 T. starch (potato or corn)

2 green onions, finely chopped

1 in. piece of ginger, shredded (I’ve used 1 t. ground ginger in a pinch)

1 egg

Sauce

1/3 c. soy sauce (If you’re gluten free, check your label; we use coconut aminos instead of soy)

1/3 c. sake

1/3 c. mirin (found at an Asian market, or the Asian section of some grocery stores)

1 T. sugar

Note: T stands for tablespoon, t stands for teaspoon.

Directions:

To make the sauce: In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk together the soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar. Bring to a boil, and then simmer until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes.  Be careful not to burn.

To make the meatballs: In a large bowl, beat the egg until uniform in color.  Blend in the sake, starch, onions, and ginger. Add the ground chicken, and mix well.

Put a thin layer of a neutral oil (such as canola) in a large frying pan, and heat over medium-high heat.  Scoop meatballs into the frying pan using a tablespoon, roughly shaping them but not forming them into perfect balls.  I was introduced to them in this fashion, later to find out that the shape was due to my friend’s cooking style.  The choice is yours. Rotate until uniformly browned, and cooked through.  Transfer to bowl with slotted spoon and continue to fry until all of the meatballs have been cooked.

In Japan, these are served on bamboo skewers, as an appetizer, but I was introduced to them over rice as a main course, and will forever regard them in that way.  Spoon sauce onto meatballs and rice, if desired. This goes very well with a bowl of steamed mixed vegetables.

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