Asian Meatballs

Sesame oil, ginger, and soy sauce–definitely ingredients of Asian food. Now, would you think to include those with meatballs? I wouldn’t. My European heritage equates meatballs with spaghetti and tomato sauce.

When I saw this recipe, though, I was prompted to try it. I never ate much Asian food until I was on a plane heading to Japan to spend a year working there, which turned into two years. That was nearly two decades ago, but my appetite grew more adventurous with that entire experience, especially toward Asian foods.

These meatballs have a touch of Asian flavor with the ginger and sesame oil included in the meat, but the true Asian flavor comes from the Hoisin sauce, which you can probably find at the Asian section of the market (and it’s a fraction of the cost at the Asian market versus the typical grocery store). It’s rather thick and looks unappealing, but the flavor is both sweet and savory.

Once you make these, you can heat up the sauce on the stovetop or keep the meatballs/sauce in a crockpot. They make fabulous leftovers, too.

By the way, I served mine with Asian sticky rice. The gal on the site where I found the recipe served it over slightly sauteed cabbage.

Asian Meatballs

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INGREDIENTS

Meatballs

  • 2 pounds ground pork or beef (or a mixture)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil (you can buy it toasted)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger (I keep hunks of frozen peeled ginger in freezer)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tbsp.)
  • 1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced

Sauce

  • 2/3 cup Hoisin sauce (7 oz. jar)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Using your hands or a large spoon, mix the ingredients together until well combined.
  3. Shape the meat mixture into 1-inch balls.
  4. Place meatballs on foil-lined and greased baking sheets or silpat mats (or, place on racks, like cookie-cooling racks, to allow meat to drain while baking). Bake for approximately 8 minutes, then turn on broiler and broil meatballs for a couple minutes until a brown, crunchy crust forms.
  5. While meatballs are baking, whisk together sauce ingredients. Gently toss the sauce with the cooked meatballs to coat them. Serve or place in crockpot to keep warm until ready to serve.

Yield: about 60 1-inch meatballs.

SOURCE: The View from the Great Island

Ginger Beef Stir Fry

This stir fry actually tasted pretty good, which surprised me. I attempted it with some hesitancy since plum sauce is an ingredient I had never used, nor heard of, until I saw this recipe. Plum sauce is thick and sweet, and it just didn’t look appealing, but it came highly rated on the web site where I found the recipe, so I had faith it would be good. And it was. It ended up having a sweet taste, kind of like the sweet and sour dishes at Chinese restaurants only without the sour part…just the sweet part.

The 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes left the dish a bit on the spicy side, so I reduced it to 1/8 the next time I made it. Much better for me as I don’t like overly spicy food.

I’ve used cashews rather than salted nuts before because that was what we had on hand. I like the sweetness of the cashews, but the salt of the peanuts adds a nice underlayer of flavor to the dish. As long as it has a crunchy element, whether it be peanuts, cashews, or just rice noodles, it satisfies my palate.

If you don’t have plum sauce, try the Asian section of your market or find an Asian store. Also, you can try a substitution which I’ll add to the recipe below.

Ginger Beef Stir Fry

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INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp. plum sauce (see below for plum sauce substitution)
  • 1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger (I use my zester)
  • 1 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/8 – 1/4  tsp. red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you like your dishes
  • 1 lb. boneless sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin
  • 1½ cups small broccoli florets
  • 1 carrot, peeled and julienned
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced/julienned (I added this to original recipe)
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced (I added this to original recipe)
  • 2 – 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp. salted peanuts, chopped (optional)
  • rice, for serving
  • sesame seeds, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small bowl, combine the water and cornstarch; whisk until smooth.  Stir in the plum sauce, ginger, soy sauce and red pepper flakes.  Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat, cook the steak strips until no longer pink.  Remove to a plate and set aside, draining the excess fat from the skillet if necessary.
  3. Add the oil to the pan and heat through.  Add the red pepper, broccoli and carrot pieces to the skillet and stir fry until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add mushrooms and zucchini about 2-3 minutes into cooking of pepper, broccoli, and carrots. Continue stirring for about 2 more minutes.
  5. Mix in the green onion and garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  6. Return the steak pieces to the pan.  Add the sauce, stirring well to coat everything.  Cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes more.
  7. Stir in the peanuts.
  8. Serve over rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds for garnish, if desired.

Plum sauce substitution:

Mix together the following:

  • 1 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. plum jam or apricot preserves or orange marmalade
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Source: adapted from Annie’s Eats, who adapted from The Comfort of Cooking, originally from Allrecipes

Beef, Asparagus, & Cashew Stir Fry

I’m not one of those menu planners when it comes to dinner and grocery shopping. I tend to wing it. Whatever we are in the mood for. Whatever strikes our fancy. Whatever captures my attention at the market. Whatever recipe catches my eye.

Or whatever food is in the fridge that needs cooking.

Last night, the asparagus that I bought too much of a few days ago needed use. And hubby had taken out a package of meat that needed use, too (oryx steak, if you want to know…you see, hubby hunts every so often and we have an unusual array of meats in the freezer).

We were tired of cooking the meat the same ol’ way, and since we hadn’t made stir fry in quite awhile, that change of pace sounded appetizing. Plus, I remembered a recipe I had used in the past for Asparagus Stir Fry. Although that recipe is delish, hubby needs meat in his supper fare, so I combined a couple of my favorite stir fry recipes to create a heftier meal.

My favorite thing about stir fry is that you can toss in whatever you have on hand or whatever you feel like chompin’ on, so altering this recipe is a breeze in terms of adding or deleting items. The sauce is flavorful as per recipe, but swapping different types of broth for the oyster sauce works well, too. I actually used chicken broth this time because we had on open container left in the fridge; it worked fine.

My favorite part of this recipe is the roasted cashews; it takes it over the top. A sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds adds a decorative touch as well as another layer of crunch.

By the way, did you know you can buy containers of sesame seeds already toasted? I found them at an Asian market. Much easier than toasting the seeds because if you are like me, more often than not you burn the first batch!

Stay tuned for what to do with the asparagus leftover from this recipe. I have plans for that for tonight’s dinner.

Happy chompin’!

Beef, Asparagus, & Cashew Stir Fry

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. flank steak, trimmed
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. water
  • 2 tbsp. oyster sauce (clam or fish sauce will suffice or even beef broth)
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil, divided
  • 2 carrots, shredded using grater
  • 2 lbs. asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 — 3/4 cup cashews, toasted (amount used depends on how much you love cashews)
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced diagonally

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cut steak in half lengthwise. Cut each half across the grain into 1/8 inch thick slices.
  2. Combine beef, soy sauce, garlic, and black pepper; toss well. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Combine 1 1/2 tsp. water, oyster sauce, and crushed red pepper in small bowl; set aside.
  4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Toast cashews for 5-7 minutes. Toast sesame seeds for 2-3 minutes; keep an eye on them so they don’t burn!
  5. Grate the carrots. Set aside.
  6. Cut off the top 3 inches of the asparagus (reserve stems for another use) and cut into 1-inch pieces (I like to cut on the diagonal just for a prettier presentation). Set aside.
  7. Heat 1 tbsp. sesame oil in a wok or a large skillet until quite hot. Add beef mixture to wok; cook 3 minutes or until beef is browned, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Transfer beef mixture to a bowl.
  8. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp. sesame oil. Add the carrots and cook, over medium heat, tossing frequently, for 2-3 minutes.
  9. Add the asparagus tips and cook, over medium heat, tossing frequently, for 2-3 minutes.
  10. Return beef mixture to pan. Stir in the oyster sauce mixture, cashews, and sesame seeds (or just sprinkle seeds on top when serving); cook until thoroughly heated, about 2 minutes.
  11. Serve over rice. Garnish with scallion.

SOURCES adapted from The New Basics Cookbook (Asparagus Tips Oriental) and Cooking Light magazine (July 2009 issue- Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry)