Hoisin Meatballs are made with tamarind, ginger and garlic seasoned beef and a simple hoisin glaze. Those gluten-free round bites go well as an appetizer, on noodles or rice.
Mini Hoisin Meatballs are kid-friendly and polyvalent. They go well as an appetizer or main meal and are simply divine when paired with some crunchy carrots, cucumber, scallions and a few peanuts. Also, a fast and easy way to make a last-minute meal. Simply cook a bunch up and keep some frozen meatballs for later.
Experimenting with Meatballs
I used chickpea flour this time to replace the “usual breadcrumb” to soak up all the moisture from the meatballs and bound them well. This way it makes them “gluten-free” and gives the meat an extra protein boost. I didn’t use any eggs since they were holding great without them! I guess eggs are used for bigger-sized meatballs, it makes them hold better, but in this case, the meatballs are so small and won’t break.
The seasoning for the meat is a simple one; ginger, garlic and a bit of tamarind paste. I saw a beef stew recipe, last week, from the Middle East which uses tamarind paste. It triggered my curiosity… Knowing that it’s also the main ingredient for the Worcestershire sauce which is often a magic ingredient in meatballs… it turned out wonderful! Of course, the tamarind paste isn’t ketchup… not everyone has it in the fridge. So no worries if you don’t have any, just use a touch of Worcestershire sauce instead.
So the meatball has a spicy element with the ginger, a sour element with the tamarind paste, a savoury element with the soy sauce and umami with all that meat. Just missing one thing to complete the perfect Asian balance: a sweet element. No better sweet sauce than Hoisin which is slightly modified to coat to perfection those small meatballs.
Hoisin sauce is a Chinese/Vietnamese sauce used for the famous Pekin duck recipe but also as a dip for spring rolls and on many meat dishes. It contains red miso, garlic, ginger, brown sugar and spices but mainly a sweet and unctuous sauce.
As I’ve pointed out earlier, either use these as an appetizer or a main meal. As an appetizer, you could add them to a “fondue” pot on low heat, add extra water to the hoisin sauce and let people pick them with a wooden stick from the hot pot. Or simply make a “crunchy lettuce leave bite, with some pickled carrots and cucumber, this way your guests won’t have to make their hands dirty. Plus the salad gives a nice crunch.
Or for a main meal, I’ve added the meatballs on simple rice vermicelli with raw carrot, cucumber, scallions and peanuts. So simple and yummy! Add a little splash of grilled sesame seed oil, lime and soy sauce to the vermicelli and voila!
This meatballs could be made with chicken, turkey, pork or whatever you’ld like.
Other Asian appetizers
So let’s make those little bites!
- 450 g ground beef
- 2 tbsp chickpea flour (or breadcrumbs)
- 1 tbsp tamarind paste (or Worcestershire)
- 1 tsp soy sauce (or tamari)
- 1/2 tbsp garlic (finely minced)
- 1/2 tbsp ginger (grated)
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- salt and pepper
The Hoisin Glaze
- 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey (or maple syrup)
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Start by mixing all the meatballs ingredients and making small balls.
- Add to a baking sheet, spray a little oil on them and cook at 180°C (350F) for 15 minutes.
- During that time, add all the ingredients for the glaze in a pan and mix, bringing to low heat to warm it up.
- Add the cooked meatballs directly into the pan with the glaze and serve.