Thursday, November 05, 2009

Asian Style Meatballs

Here I am. I haven’t gone very far. Just across the main avenue that divides our busy little central business district into two. Thank you for all your warm wishes and greetings of luck on our move! We have successfully installed ourselves in the temporary flat, which is located in the same building as our new/old flat that we will be calling our home. We'll be staying here until early next year while our soon-to-be home (some floors below us) gets a much needed face lift.

I must confess to slight nostalgic twinges for our old home and our old neighbourhood (we still make it to the market there) but I am growing very fond of our new one. I’m much closer to another weekend market (which I’ve also frequented in the past). The sidewalks seem bigger and I see more trees around. The view is much better too – still a city view, meaning building and more buildings, but at least none of them are condemned or under construction...and the afore-mentioned trees add a touch (albeit a very small touch) of green :) Anyway, I actually love looking at other buildings***. Oh and we have a teeny-tiny kaffir lime plant can finally know what it feels like to live in the outside world!

On the cooking front, we have managed not to totally fall into the trenches of store-bought food, thank goodness. Plus renovation is hungry work so best to be prepared with something a little more substantial than a convenience store bun!

Asian Style Meatballs
  • 500 grams ground pork
  • 1/2 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes (depends how spicy your chili is...mine is from Thailand and very spicy)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and upper stem parts)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (scant, not packed)
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (patis)
  • 1/4 cup Ilocos vinegar (sukang Iloco)

- In a bowl mix salt, pepper, chili flakes, garlic, ginger, cilantro, and sugar until well blended.
- In a bigger, non-reactive bowl, place ground pork. Add vinegar and fish sauce, then sprinkle with bread crumbs.
- Add the spice mix from step one to the pork and mix with your hands until incorporated.
- Cook a small amount of the mince mix to taste and adjust seasoning (and cook and taste again) as needed.
- Leave the mince mix in the fridge for an hour.
- After the mixture has rested, shape into balls, patties, or logs and fry until just not overcook! Watch them to make sure the sugar does not burn.
- Serve immediately. Serves 4.

This dish was inspired by two (well, three actually) bloggers' attempts at making their own, homemade, Filipino longanisa. Longanisa is our local sausage and every corner of this archipelago has their own version. One blogger is Marvin of Burnt Lumpia who I have long admired for his tireless dedication to learning Filipino cooking. His family is from a region in the Philippines (Ilocos) known for their delicious longanisa. The other bloggers are JS and TS of [eatingclub] vancouver who shared their old yaya’s (nanny) recipe. Now, how did it go from Filipino longanisa to “Asian Style Meatballs”? I added a bit of this and a bit of that, searched the internet some more, and ended up with what you have here. That’s not to say you can’t turn these back into Filipino Longanisa. If you omit the ginger and cilantro, form the mince into little logs, and fry or grill, you should have your own version of longanisa!

C and I (and our friend who dropped by last night) both enjoyed this! The meatballs came out tremendously flavour-packed! The garlic, ginger and cilantro all came through beautifully, the chili added just the right amount of heat, and the sugar worked perfectly in tempering these potent flavours. The fish sauce (patis) adds a more rounded savoury-ness than salt and I’ll be trying an all fish sauce-no salt version next time.

These go very well with some (Thai) sweet chilli sauce for dipping and I imagine would make a jaunty addition to a spread of appetizers. You can also shape the mince into little patties and cook up a noodle salad much like this one. You can freeze the shaped balls (or patties or logs), uncooked, as an emergency stash...just in case your contractor or designer is in need of some sort of bribing! ;)

***Does anyone else have this strange insectile fixation? It gives me a peculiar sense of pleasure to gaze at a zillion other windows, imagining the zillion other lives going on behind them. I can stand like this for quite some time, oddly entranced.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Those look spicy and delicious to please! Lovely!



Manggy said...

Ooh, I like the idea of an emergency stash of meatballs... Much better than the instant ramen I've been turning to for my midnight hunger pangs.. :(

Passion Pride Family said...


All these recipes so little time...

Getting hungry again. And to think that I just finished dinner.

I'll try this out! Thank you for the recipe and congratulations on the new place! :)

S. said...

Mmmm... I love Asian flavors and I can't wait to try this. Your photo is lovely and the recipe sounds delicious and simple :)

Amelia PS said...

oh, they sounds perfectly zesty!!!

T-Charry said...

mmmmm, these look SO GOOD!

Gary said...

Meatballs seem to be everywhere for me today. The Minimalist at NY is cooking them up too! This sounds like a great recipe. Fish sauce? Not familiar with it.

Junglefrog said...

Glad to hear your move to the temporary house went well! These meatballs look delicious!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Rosa! They are :)

Hi Manggy! Always good to have some homemade meatballs frozen for emergencies! That goes for cookie dough and pie crust too :)

Hi Passion Pride Family! Thank you! Hope you like it :)

Hi S! Thanks :) I love Asian flavors too!

Hi Amelia! Zesty is a perfect word to describe them :)

Thanks T-Charry!

Hi Gary! Must check that out...Fish sauce (locally known as patis over here) is a fermented anchovy sauce -- I know it may not sound so appetizing but it adds a savory, umami flavor to dishes as opposed to being just salty. It's quite the staple in Southeast Asian condiments :)

Hi Junglefrog! Thanks :) Yes, it all went well and hopefully the renovation goes smoothly too!

Midge said...

These look so good! Congrats on the move, Joey!

(Oh, and speaking as the daughter of an architect and an interior designer, one of the tastiest ways to bribe the contractor/designer is to bake a batch of cookies. Oatmeal, from experience, works best. :p)

Anne said...

these looks yummy! another must try :-)

Patricia Scarpin said...

My hubby is crazy for meatballs and he's gonna love these, Joey!

Vampire In The City said...

Congratulations on the move! They are always most challenging but when you sit back and see a clean and nicely decorated apartment, and get a whiff of a home-cooked meal from the kitchen -- few things actually get better.

Looking forward to more posts about food and settling in.

corrine said...

These meatballs look good! I will try it. I worked in Makati for a long time and then transferred to the suburbs, where there are so many trees around, where it's cleaner and more quiet, later made me forget the city. I realized I'm blessed not to have to go on long commute everyday too. Look out for not so common birds that fly around!

corrine said...

These meatballs look good! I will try it. I worked in Makati for a long time and then transferred to the suburbs, where there are so many trees around, where it's cleaner and more quiet, later made me forget the city. I realized I'm blessed not to have to go on long commute everyday too. Look out for not so common birds that fly around!

Divina Pe said...

Congratulations on your move. Meatballs could really save the day. They look absolutely delicious.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Midge! Thanks! And thanks for the tip! A batch of cookies is definitely in the works :)

Hi Anne! I really liked the flavors here…hope you like them too!

Hi Patricia! Hope he likes them! We love all kinds of meatballs here…and these ones have a lovely Asian edge :)

Hello Vampire! Thank you! I agree! Although since this one’s a temporary space it isn’t exactly in “clean and well decorated” condition as our existing furniture is squeezed in with the furniture that comes with the flat. But we are pretty settled in for now :)

Hi Corrine! Thanks :) Hope you like them! I’m still loving the city (no matter how much I whine!) although the addition of a few more trees in my view is definitely appreciated!

Thanks Divina! They certainly can :)

Marvin said...

Longanisa meatballs?!! Genius, joey! You could even tuck a few into a pandesal for an Asian style meatball sandwich. And thanks for the shoutout too.

I also like staring into windows, though not for too long lest the people behind them think I'm being some sort of weirdo--I'm more a paranoid than a voyeur;)

Anna said...

Wow, my favourite meatballs. Thank you for sharing the recipe. BTW, I also have a food blog:
Hong Kong Food Blog

Would you like to exchange links?


P said...

was that a placemat? love the graphics. so apropos to where you are right now.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Marvin! Thanks! And thanks for all the inspiration :) An Asian style meatball sandwich in pan de sal is a brilliant idea! I will have to try that next time! Hehe…the windows that are in my view are too far to actually see anything specific, but it’s nice to wonder about the stories behind them :)

Hi Anna! Thanks…I’ll check it out :)

Hi P! Haha! It’s not a placemat…it’s the floor plan of our new place :) I’ll pass your compliments to our ID :)

Bordeaux said...

Hooray you are back! These sound yuuuuummy, makes my grandmother's sound a little dull. Although I still love them. But these just sound way better.

Jay Perez said...

Hey Chicha-Jo!

congrats on the new move!

my boss is actually looking for a place near where your new place is. i dont suppose you know of any places up for grabs or can direct me to a decent agent? my gmail email is "ridge3".

slightly off-topic but are you still selling sardines at your new place? :D let me know too.


cookeaze said...

I love meatballs and always your blog will be a great inspiration for me and will try and taste it very soon...

Rasa Malaysia said...

Congrats on the move, and yummy on the meat balls. I love all sorts of meat balls, and recently, it's Japanese tsukune at yakitori place. Yummy, and love your meat balls!!

Shalum said...

Happy for you and your lime plant! And the meatballs are yummy looking. Would love to try that.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Bordeaux! Just barely! There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day! I love the Asian twist of these meatballs…although I also love regular meatballs too :)

Hi Jay! Thanks you! I’ll email you about that agent! Yes, I’m still selling sardines :)

Hi Cookeaze! Thank you for your nice comment :)

Hi Bee! Thanks! :) Will have to hunt down that Japanese meatball…sounds yummy!

Hi Shalum! Hehe, thank you! They are easy to make…hope you can give it a go!

Chocolaty Lifestyle said...

What a good looking dish! And must be really yummy too! :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Chocolaty Lifestyle! Thanks for dropping by :)

Foodfreak said...

sounds really yummy!

veron said...

Joey that looks amazing and everything that went into it sounds delish!

Shandy said...

What a delicious and flavorful meal. Not heavy and versatile. Love your photo too =)

Anonymous said...

Just found this food blog and I'm here to stay!
I've looked everywhere for Ilocos vinegar (I live in London) but can't find any. Can you recommend a substitute?
Thanks, and keep up the great work:)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Foodfreak! Thanks :)

Hi Veron! Thanks! I love the ingredients too :)

Hi Shandy! Thank you :)

Hi Anonymous! Thank you for your nice comment! If you can’t find Ilocos vinegar you should be able to sub any other Filipino vinegar. There may be flavor changes, but it’ll still be good :)

The Purple Foodie said...

The meatballs look lovely. I am so envious of your kaffir lime plant! You know, I've had your dense chocolate cupcakes (nigella's recipe) on my to-bake for over a year now! I am such a delinquent baker. Or lets just say that my to-bake list is never ending!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Purple Foodie! The kaffir lime plant is the only one that has managed to survive in my flat! My to-bake and to-cook lists are similar...never-ending! ;)

SteamyKitchen said...

Was just gonna say...Thai Sweet Chili Sauce!!!!

Great (hungry) minds think alike!

redmenace said...

Wow. I am officially starving. Thanks for this great recipe!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Jaden! Doesn't it just call out for it? :) Love Thai sweet chili sauce!

Hi Redmenace! You're welcome! :)

S. said...

Mmmmm, looks great. I have a similar recipe that I stole from Ken Hom that uses both beef and pork mince. The rest of the recipe is very similar though and it gets deep fried at the end. I really love the ginger and cilantro flavors. Nice work!

ChichaJo said...

Hi S! Sounds delicious! Yup, I love the ginger-cilantro flavors that come through :)

Bron said...

Mmm lovely Joey, so tasty and deliciously spicy...yum!

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Bron! I love these flavors :)