I chose to bake the pork balls instead of frying because I'm convinced baking yields a superior result. It's not that I think baking meatballs is more virtuous than frying, because I still use the same amount of oil, but I think the oven does a better job of cooking the meat balls more evenly. Frying tends to be rather messy and has to be done in batches. Also, fried meatballs oftentimes end up misshapen, some undercooked, some overcooked. I find that baking meatballs results in nicer shaped balls that are perfectly browned with a lightly crusted exterior and perfectly tender interior. Therefore I almost always bake any meatball recipe. Simply set your oven to 350F, oil a baking sheet, place your meatballs on the baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and bake for around 20-25 minutes. Throw the baking sheet in the oven and walk away! Easy peasy! No messy clean up. No standing over the stove frying batch after batch of meatballs. I highly recommend it.
I want to thank my friend Joyce, at Kitchen Flavours, for pointing out this delectable pork ball recipe! Like Joyce, I went ahead and used a sweet chili dipping sauce that I had in my pantry, but I have included the recipe for Diana Henry's homemade chili dipping sauce below.
Asian Pork Balls with Chili Dipping Sauce
Inspired by Diana Henry
recipe found on Kitchen Flavours
For the Chili Sauce
6 large red chillies, 3 deseeded and roughly chopped
5cm (2in) root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
grated zest of 3 and juice of 2 limes
12 garlic cloves
1 large bunch of coriander, leaves only
300gm (10-1/2oz) caster sugar
50ml (2fl oz) Thai fish sauce
120ml (4fl oz) white wine vinegar
For the Pork Balls
2 pounds ground pork
7 oz. of bacon, finely chopped*
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2cm (3/4in) fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
1 red chili (jalapeno), deseeded and chopped
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
grated zest of 1 and juice of 1/2 lime
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup coriander, finely chopped
salt and pepper
canola oil, for frying or baking
First make the chilli sauce: Put the chillies, ginger, lime zest and juice, garlic and coriander leaves into a food processor and puree into a coarse puree. Put the sugar into a thick-bottomed pan with 6 tbsp water and place on medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat slowly and gradually boil until the syrup becomes a caramel colour. Stir in the paste, fish sauce and vinegar and simmer for 2 minutes. Leave to cool.
For the Pork Balls: Mix everything for the pork balls (not the oil) together in a large bowl, combining all the ingredients with your hands to make sure they get well mixed. Season well. Pull off chunks and form into balls about the size of a walnut. It is better to chill these before cooking them, otherwise they tend to fall apart, so lay them on a baking sheet, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for an hour or so.
To Cook Pork Balls: Heat about 1cm (1/2 in) oil in a frying pan and cook the pork balls in batches, colouring them all over. It takes about 4 minutes, but do check you are frying them long enough for the pork in the middle to be cooked. Or, bake the pork balls as I have done by oiling a baking sheet, placing the pork balls on the sheet, drizzling with more oil, and baking at 350F for about 25 minutes.
To Serve: Serve with the chilli sauce (or indeed a bought dipping sauce, such as Thai chilli or plum) and eat with plain boiled rice and stir-fried vegetables.
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