It’s not like my family has an issue with meatballs. We can stop eating them any time we want. We just don’t happen to want to.
These meatballs incorporate the technique of The Blend – this is the notion that using mushrooms in a recipe that would normally feature primarily meat is a plus on a few levels.
One, incorporating mushrooms in lieu of some of the meat cuts back on the some of the fat, and simply reduces the amount of meat we are eating in a dish, which in itself is a good and desirable thing.
The second reason is that mushrooms taste great; in this case delicious shiitakes are in play.
And finally, the use of mushrooms adds another layer of texture. In these meatballs, the shittakes are sautéed and then chopped, so they punctuate the little orbs with slightly chewy and caramelized tiny nuggets. They are not a substitute for more meat, they make the dish truly better. Pure joy, I tell you.
Serve them as part of an Asian spread, maybe paired up with this Lemon and Scallion Chicken Stir Fry
I have been incorporating the notion of The Blend into my cooking this year, and it’s a very fun concept to play with. Burgers, meatballs, meatloaves, dumplings, many different dishes benefit from the notion of The Blend.
And speaking of dumplings, my friend Tiffany said of these meatballs that they taste like the inside of a really good dumpling. And it’s true! (Thanks in part to the ginger, garlic, and sesame oil).
This recipe makes meatballs for a serious group of people, but you can easily cut the recipe in half if it’s for a family meal, or a smaller throng. If you want to serve them as a meal instead of an appetizer, try them over a bed of rice, brown, white, jasmine, any kind you like.
Other Japanese Inspired Recipes:
- Japanese Restaurant Salad Dressing
- Teriyaki Chicken and Beef Skewers
- Chicken Yakitori
- Tonkatsu-Style Cutlets
Japanese Meatballs with Ponzu Glaze
For the Meatballs
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
- 10 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 pound ground chicken
- ⅔ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 4 scallions trimmed and minced (white and green parts)
- 2 large eggs
For the Glaze
- ½ cup mirin see Note
- ½ cup less-sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons Ponzu see Note
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar dark or light
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- Generous pinch red pepper flakes
- Toasted sesame seeds and slivered scallions to garnish, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil, and lightly oil or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Make the meatballs: Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add the vegetable oil, then add the mushrooms and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until the mushrooms start to become golden brown. Add the ginger and garlic, and sauté for another minute, until you can smell the ginger and garlic. Add the sherry and sesame oil, stir to scrap up any bits left on the bottom of the pan, and sauté for about 2 minutes until the liquid evaporates. Allow the mushroom mixture to cool.
- Finely chop the cooled mushrooms in a food processor or by hand. In a large bowl, combine the mushrooms, chicken, pork, Panko, pepper, salt, scallions, and eggs. Use your hands to combine the mixture gently but thoroughly. Form the mixture into 1-inch meatballs (you will have between 50 and 60).
- Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheets and bake for about 15 minutes, until almost cooked through.
- Make the Glaze: While the meatballs bake, in a small saucepan combine the mirin, soy sauce, Ponzu, brown sugar, ginger and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, then lower the heat to medium and continue to simmer until it reduces and thickens slightly into a glaze, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Remove the meatballs from the oven and brush the glaze over the meatballs. Return the meatballs to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes until the glaze caramelizes a bit. If you want to finish them for 1 minute under the broiler, to get an even more browned exterior, you can go ahead and do that, but watch that they do not burn.
- Transfer the cooked meatballs to a serving platter and sprinkle over the remaining glaze. Scatter the sesame seeds and slivered scallions over the meatballs if desired. Serve with skewers or toothpicks.
Note:Mirin is a type of rice wine similar to sake, but slightly sweeter, with a lower alcohol content and higher sugar content. When it is heated, the small amount of alcohol burns off. Ponzu is a citrus-based sauce used often in Japanese cooking. It is salty and tangy, made from vinegar, mirin (a low alcohol rice wine), seaweed and fish flakes (please, don’t be turned off) and it has just a wonderful flavor. The citrus most commonly added is that of the tart yuzu, which is a fruit that originated in China and then migrated through East Asia. It is available in many well-stocked supermarkets, in the Asian aisle, or in specialty stores, and also online. I am working in partnership with The Mushroom Council, and was compensated for this post. Working with companies and organizations I really like, and being paid for it, is part of what allows me to keep doing what I do!
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