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Asian Barbecue-Style Meatballs

Asian Barbecue-Style Meatballs
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Open up your Asian pantry and make great meatballs in 20 minutes flat.

When I saw this recipe in the New York Times, I had misfired with meatballs all too recently. I’ll spare the ugly details, but that recipe used un-cooked rice in a meatball that managed to remain uncooked after 55 minutes of cooking.  Meatballs to me ought to be high on the comfort foods list. You can make this recipe using almost any kind of ground meat—beef, pork, or chicken.  They certainly don’t require anything like 55 minutes of cooking time. In fact, they cook in 15 minutes flat,  so I had a race to cook the rice before they were done. I had supreme confidence in the recipe because its creator has been creating beautiful food for two decades.

A Wellesley College Graduate chooses a career in food.

Kay Chun is now a Freelance editor, recipe developer, and food stylist. The Wellesley College graduate has worked for each of the Big Three Food Magazines. Gourmet, Bon Appetit, and Food and Wine have all benefited from her skills.  She grew up in New Jersey, the daughter of a celebrated Grand Master of TaeKwanDo, Richard Chun.  Chun believes a lot of her discipline in the kitchen came from Saturday after Saturday at her father’s studio in Manhattan. Immersed in rigorous training from the time she was five, Kay attributes her discipline to those Saturdays.   But it was the influence of the Korean food she grew up eating that set her on her culinary path. She enrolled at the French Culinary Institute in New York. Her many recipes are not all Asian. But as Asian food has risen in popularity, Chun’s Asian palate has come to the fore.

Pan Asian flavors make this meatball a taste of Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, and Korea.

These meatballs are a great example of how easy it is to work with and interchange Asian ingredients. The recipe was originally called “Korean” Meatballs.  But I altered the ingredient list to include Kecap Manis, the Indonesian soy sauce sweetened with palm sugar.  (Feel free to stick to the original recipe which calls for just ordinary reduced-sodium soy sauce.) And when I made the dipping sauce that Chun made using soy sauce and white vinegar, I made ours with Mirin, the Japanese sweet rice wine, and Rice Vinegar. I can’t tell you how good it was and I highly recommend it if you have Mirin on hand. Now with all those substitutions came the name change from Korean to Asian. And for good measure, I sprinkled the finished meatballs with a dusting of sesame seeds.

Be inventive with your Asian pantry and you won’t be disappointed.

The way the recipe works is that as the meatballs bake, the soy sauce brings together the garlic and scallions to create a savory-sweet glaze. In another switch up, I used ground pork while Chun used 85/15 Ground Beef for hers and recommended 80/20 Ground Beef for juicier meatballs.  The Ritz Crackers threw me a bit. I used Saltines. Kay Chun served her meatballs over simply steamed rice. I served ours over Bobby Flay’s Crispy Coconut Scallion Rice. The recipe is right below. Since we are cooking in Quarantine, let’s be inventive. Here’s the recipe. And before it, some other Asian flavors to try.

Bobby Flay’s Crispy Coconut-Scallion Rice And the Trader Joe’s Entrées I’d serve with it.

Asian Sloppy Joe Sliders, a recipe from Chef Ming Tsai

Adobo Chicken with Bacon and Bay Leaves from Chef Paul Qui. And an Asian-inflected Tomato and Burrata Salad

Asian Barbecue-Style Meatballs

May 5, 2020
: 4
: 5 min
: 15 min
: 20 min
: Easy

Get creative with Pan Asian ingredients in this great and fast recipe for meatballs.


  • ½ cup chopped scallions
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or Kicap Manis
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup finely crushed Ritz crackers (12 crackers) or Saltines
  • 1 pound ground beef (round or chuck), ground pork or ground chicken.
  • 1 tsp. Sesame seeds (Optional)
  • Step 1 Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and use your hands to gently mix.
  • Step 2 Shape the meat into 12 golf-ball-size rounds (about 2 inches in diameter), and arrange on a greased rimmed baking sheet.
  • Step 3 Bake until golden and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Serve warm.
  • Step 4 Leftover meatballs freeze well and can be reheated in the oven at 375 degrees until warmed through (about 20 minutes).
  • Step 5 To make the Ritz or Saltine crumbs, place the crackers in a resealable plastic bag and lightly crush them with the back of a wooden spoon or measuring cup.

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Spread the love Andrew’s sister Lauren and I like to share “Comments” made by cooks about other people’s recipes.   Our particular favorites are when someone spends not one minute following the original recipe but instead enters their own little world and creates a dish that […]

2 thoughts on “Asian Barbecue-Style Meatballs”

  • Beautiful photography Monte! I didn’t see the original recipe link or the dipping sauce. Maybe just soy and vinegar as you spelled out. In Mexico (since February!) craving new flavors!!!! Thank you!

    • I am so sorry Kerry. It’s two tbsp.Mirin and 1 tsbp. Rice Wine Vinegar. That’s per person put in a ramekin. When are you coming back? Miss You!

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