An easy and flavourful meal the whole family will love!
I’m not sure what it is about meatballs, but my family gets excited every time I make them. Over the years I’ve branched out from the classic Italian meatball and pasta combo to Turkish meatball sandwiches, spiced lamb meatball stew, sweet and sour meatballs and these great Instant Pot Swedish meatballs. Our latest meatball infatuation is inspired by my deep and abiding love for Thai cuisine. For these hearty and comforting bowls, I like to use ground pork as we find it so flavourful and tender but ground chicken or turkey would also be delicious. You can customize these bowls by adding additional vegetables such as sliced cucumbers or bean sprouts and even slivered mango if you like. If you don’t have a large, oven-safe skillet, you can cook the meatballs on the stove, over medium-high heat, for about 10 minutes, turning frequently (I like doing them in the oven because it’s easier and less messy). Bonus tip: consider making a double batch as the leftovers reheat beautifully.
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) water
- 5 teaspoons (12.5 g) cornstarch, divided
- 1/3 cup (90 mL) soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) honey or maple syrup
- 2 – 4 teaspoons (10 – 20 g) Sambal Oelek (chili garlic paste) or Sriracha, to taste
- zest and juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) vegetable oil
- 1 pound (454 g) ground pork
- 1 inch (2.5 cm) piece of fresh ginger root, grated
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Pinch freshly-ground black pepper
- 2 medium-sized shallots, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped in bite-sized pieces
- 1 medium sized carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup (5 g) each fresh basil and cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
- 8 ounces (225 g) thin rice noodles
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) sesame oil
- 1/4 cup (60 g) peanuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 lime, in wedges
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- In a glass jar with a tight lid, shake together the cold water and 4 teaspoons (10 g) of the cornstarch. Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, Sambal Oelek, lime zest and lime juice; cover and shake well to blend. Set aside.
- Place the ground pork, remaining cornstarch, ginger, garlic, and a pinch of pepper in a bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined.
- Place skillet in preheated oven while you shape the meatballs. Use your very clean hands (or a small cookie dough scoop) to shape two dozen meatballs approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter, placing them on a clean tray or plate as you form them. Pack them just firmly enough to hold together but don’t compress the mixture too much or meatballs will be less tender.
- Remove the hot skillet from the oven; add the vegetable oil and swirl to coat pan evenly. Carefully add the meatballs. Bake for 5 minutes, then shake pan to adjust the meatballs. Bake 10 minutes more until browned and cooked through (internal temperature of the meatballs should be 155F).
- While meatballs finish baking, prepare the rice noodles. Place them in a broad casserole dish, preferably one with a lid. Use a kettle to boil about 8 cups (2 L) of water; carefully pour enough water over the noodles to completely cover them then use a fork to separate them a little. Place a lid (use a baking tray if needed) over the dish and let the noodles soften while you prepare the rest of the dish.
- Once meatballs are cooked, remove skillet from oven; transfer meatballs to a clean plate. Without wiping out the pan, add the shallots, peppers and carrots; place pan over medium-high heat on stove. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, until vegetables have softened.
- Pour in the prepared soy sauce mixture and stir. Return the meatballs to the pan and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook for 3 – 5 minutes, until sauce has thickened and meatballs are thoroughly reheated. Remove pan from heat and scatter basil and/or cilantro over top.
- Drain cooked noodles and toss with the sesame oil.
- To serve, divide the noodles among four bowls and top with meatballs, vegetables and pan sauce. Scatter chopped peanuts over top and serve with additional chopped herbs, if desired, plus wedges of lime to squeeze over top.