Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thai Meatballs

Our usual way of doing pork meatballs, which we call bola bola ("ball ball"), is with onions, carrots, sometimes water chestnuts, sometimes taro or yam. This is the variation that I've always eaten growing up. I especially like the ones my Godmother makes: she usually puts strips of taro in the mix so when the balls fry up, there are extra crispy bits.

Calling my Godmother up for some meatballs was not an option today. So, I thought, why not do something different with ground pork?

I racked my brain for some dishes we love recently, and the first thing that came to mind was Thai fried chicken. So, I thought, why not take the flavours we love and put it with some ground pork for Thai meatballs?

[ts] I love the crunchy bits of water chestnuts inside!

I proceeded to open up a can of water chestnuts for the meatballs. Since I specifically did not want to use up onions with ground pork that day, I needed some other filler for the meatballs. I thought of breadcrumbs but settled for a cup of cooked rice.

I added some herbs: cilantro, mint and Thai basil. For the seasoning, I used fish sauce, oyster sauce, black pepper, and sesame oil.

I served the meatballs with some store-bought sweet chili sauce for chicken. (That is the name of the sauce on its bottle.)

When I bit into it, I felt the meatballs could use more vibrancy, more freshness, so next time I make this, I will be doubling the amount of green herbs. A little sweetness is also in order, so a touch of brown sugar will be welcome.

The recipe below reflects these changes.

But, it was still a hit with the family!


Thai Meatballs
Makes approximately 28 1" diameter meatballs

1 cup water chestnuts, chopped
1 cup cooked rice
2 lbs pork
1 cup chopped cilantro
4 teaspoons chopped mint
2 tablespoons chopped basil
1 red chile pepper, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 egg

Combine all ingredients well. Form into balls, around 1" in diameter. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Fry meatballs in batches, making sure that all surfaces are browned. Cook until done.

Thai creations at [eatingclub] vancouver:
Pad Thai (Tamarind Series, Post #1)
Waterfall Beef Salad
Thai Basil Stir-fry
Thai-marinated Fried Chicken (and the Ultimate Compliment)
Thai Meatballs
Thai Basil Tofu Stir-fry

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  1. Fried pork and sweet chili sauce-- definitely a winner in my book! :)
    PS I know the ones with carrots, then coated in sweet and sour! A Filipino classic :)

  2. Oh what a great take on meatballs!

  3. oooh...Thai meatballs. I'm there.

  4. Thai meatballs -- what a great idea! I LOVE these flavors.

    Is that simple red chile sauce that you served them with?

  5. Oohhhh great idea! I love having crispy bits of waterchestnut in everything (I even put it in ice cream sometimes).

  6. I've never tried water chestnuts in meatballs, but I bet they'd give a nice little crunch. I will have to try it. I use rice as a filler too sometimes. Thai sticky rice in particular gives a good flavor and texture.

    If you can get a hold of kaffir lime leaves, I highly recommend them. They will add that characteristic Thai punch of flavor. I also like to add some curry paste for heat.

  7. These meatballs sound good! I really like all of the fresh herbs in them.

  8. These look great and I wouldn't have thought to include rice in the mix!

  9. Manggy:
    Our usual condiment for bola-bola is ketchup! =)

    Sweet Bird:
    Hehe, thanks.

    Yup, it's that same bottle everywhere, I think. It saws "Sweet chili sauce for chicken."

    Marc @ NoRecipes:
    I have been waiting for water chestnuts to be put into some sort of farcemeat for quite some time already before JS made these! Haha... weird fantasies from people who love food. =)

    Oh, thanks for the tips! We'll make these even more "Thai"! We've never gotten red curry paste before, but recently, I saw that our mother got some on recommendation from a friend. So we'll try that for sure.



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