asian turkey balls.

asian turkey balls.

A shameless perk of writing your own food blog is that you can post your favorite recipes to the Interweb to refer back to in a snap.

Earlier this week, I opened the ol’ blog to reference the Spicy Tortellini with Eggplant and Peppers recipe and was hit pretty hard by the fact that it was the last thing I’d posted. I’m not one to make the same thing week after week because, frankly, it bores me. (Also because I’m constantly tearing out new recipes and sticking them to the fridge, which results in a revolving collage of culinary inspiration.)

Thus, my circling back to the tortellini not once but TWICE was speaking loudly to my absence from the blogging arena. To make it up to you, I shall deliver upon my return a most wondrous dish: Asian Turkey Balls. Erm, Meatballs.

The name may not activate your salivary glands or get your tumbly rumbling, but let me be perfectly clear: These Asian Turkey Balls are so savory and succulent that once you’ve tried them, you won’t care what they’re called. ‘Nuff said.

Okay, a little more said. As someone who indulges in meat now and then, I have to say that meatballs, in general, are a pretty sure bet. Swedish meatballs are a personal fave of the potluck/dinner-party scene. Hand me a toothpick, and let’s get to popping. And you can’t really go wrong with a hearty meatball sub… that is, unless you’re Subway and you decided adding pepperoni is a good idea (#thisiswhywerefat).

But let’s say you want to lighten it up a bit. AND let’s say you’re in search of a not so run-of-the-mill meatball. Then, my friend, have I got a treat for you.

Meatballs traditionally consist of ground pork, so turkey would be a lean alternative, yes? Yes. However, this was a challenge for me to embrace, as I grew up in a family that isn’t big on turkey, (a blasphemous statement here in the land of turkey-gobbling Thanksgiving celebrateurs, I know). Don’t question our patriotism, we’re just more of a dark-meat bunch. And THAT is because white meat is often so dryyy, and turkey is an awfully white bird. However, during my recipe perusing of late, I’ve come across several dishes that called for ground pork’s skinny little brother (and ground DARK meat at that!), so ground turkey finally secured a guest spot on my grocery list.

That said, what really sold me were the ingredients that provide the unexpected juiciness and robust Asian flavors: Sriracha (if you don’t already have a bottle, you should), cilantro, garlic, and fish sauce (another kitchen staple for fashioning Eastern cuisine).

I usually make a full batch of 12-ish meatballs (four servings) so the two of us can eat leftovers for lunch the next day. The “Carrot Rice” that Everyday Food pairs with the meatballs provides a subtle counterpart, so I’ll include the no-brainer recipe for that, as well.

Asian Turkey Meatballs with Carrot Rice

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground dark-meat turkey
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 4 teaspoons fish sauce (or swap for 1 teaspoon kosher salt, if you prefer)
  • 4 teaspoons hot-pepper sauce, preferably Sriracha, plus extra to serve
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Cook rice in salted water according to package directions. Remove from heat and top with shredded carrot and sliced scallion greens. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes, then stir in carrot and onion and fluff rice with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine breadcrumbs and 3 tablespoons water. Let stand 5 minutes until fluffy. Add turkey, scallion whites, cilantro, fish sauce, Sriracha, sugar, garlic, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Gently mix to combine and form into 12 meatballs.

In a large skillet (a grill pan or cast iron work great), heat oil over medium-high. In batches, brown meatballs on all sides, roughly 10 minutes total, until cooked through. Drain on paper towel-lined plate. Serve  with rice, lime wedges and additional Sriracha.

Notes to cut down on dishes (Yesssss.): 1. This may mean the  steps are a bit out of order (but you read the whole recipe first, right?), but I tend to form the meatballs and place them directly into the pan, snagging scoops with an 1/8 cup measure, packing it with my hand and plopping it – gently – into the pan. By the time you run out of room, bottoms of the first balls have browned and it’s time to start rotating!) 2. These originally called for time in the oven (thus the terrible photo above) to finish the meatballs (at 450 for 10 minutes), but I don’t bother anymore because a) they cook through just fine on the stove, b) washing a cookie sheet sounds unnecessary and lame, and c) I am d)  impatient and/or e) lazy – but that was redundant after b, right? – so less energy = environmentally friendly?

Notes for those who like to partay: They also make a great appetizer for entertaining – just skip the rice, form into daintier balls (teehee, biting tongue) and serve with Sriracha for dipping. People will love you. In fact, I brought this early on for a biweekly potluck crew (we’re cool, I know) and the host’s husband at first only remembered me at reference of the girl who brought the Asian meatballs. So, you’re welcome, Party Hero.


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