Porcupine Meatballs

Jasper’s birthday is coming up soon. Last year was a miserable flop. I think we might have gone to dinner… maybe. There was no gift that I remember. I totally failed. It was sad.

So this year, I am planning ahead. I vow to make up for my feeble attempts of last year. I am aiming for a big blowout. Our friend is offering her art gallery for the event (Jasper loves art galleries). There will be live music (hopefully). Lots of good friends (we’re 32… do we still have lots of good friends?). Precious little ponies (just kidding). And an appetizer table as far as the eye can see (not kidding)!

I can be organized from time to time. I found an actual list (that I kept! and put in a place where it could be found again!!) of all the appetizers I made for a little get-together that we had last year. I even made little comments on the side noting which appetizers were a hit and those that didn’t rank so high! I impress myself sometimes. These porcupine meatballs had five exclamation points beside it. (!!!!!) I believe that was code for ‘blow-your-head-off amazing’. They were crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, quite savory, and super asian-y, all served up with a wonderful little dipping sauce on the side. The recipe calls for a sweet chili sauce for dipping, but I made my own spicy-garlic-soy sauce, which I posted below. Here is the Porcupine Meatball recipe (It’s from Food Network Magazine). They’ll definitely be on Jasper’s birthday party menu. Come by and pop one!

I altered it just a little and added garlic, because every asian recipe needs garlic!, and panko breadcrumbs to help the meatballs hold together a little tighter.

Porcupine Meatballs

  • 1 scallion, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons peeled, chopped fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 pound ground pork (preferably pork butt)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry sherry or vermouth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hot Asian chili sauce (Sriracha)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 3-ounce package Oriental-flavor ramen noodles, with seasoning packet
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Sweet chili sauce, for dipping

Pulse the scallion, ginger, garlic and cilantro in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the pork, sherry, sesame oil, hot chili sauce, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, panko, the egg, and half (1 1/4 teaspoons) of the ramen seasoning; process until smooth. Refrigerate the mixture for 15 minutes.

Heat 4 inches of vegetable oil in a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees (or heat up a deep fryer).

Soak the ramen noodles in a bowl of hot tap water for 5 minutes, flipping once; they should be pliable enough to pull apart without breaking. Drain well and pat dry. Carefully pull the strands apart.

With dampened hands, shape 1 scant tablespoon of the pork mixture into a ball. Wrap and press some noodles around the ball, letting a bit of meat show through. Repeat with the remaining meat and noodles.

Fry the meatballs in the hot oil in batches, adjusting the heat as needed, until the noodles are crisp and golden brown and the meat is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Serve with sweet chili sauce for dipping.

Spicy-Garlic-Soy Dipping Sauce

I double this recipe and keep it in the fridge to serve with egg rolls, to marinate chicken, or even use it as a dressing for asian chicken salad.

3 Tbs. soy sauce

1 1/2 tsp. sesame oil

1/3 cup rice vinegar

1 Tbs. garlic, minced

1 tsp. grated ginger

2 Tbs. canola oil

2 Tbs. brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp. Srichacha (asian chili sauce)

Mix all ingredients until combined.

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