Pork Meatballs with Chinese Noodles
Who doesn’t like spaghetti and meatballs? I know I do, but I’ll admit we didn’t have it much growing up. It’s not that my mom didn’t like spaghetti and meatballs either, but honestly – who has the time? Really good Italian Meatballs take time. Most recipes I’ve read involve roasting the meatballs first, then simmering forever in sauce. Mom cut to the chase and made spaghetti with hamburger in the tomato sauce. Easier, quicker, but meatballs are simply funner.
Don’t get me wrong – they are worth the effort, those velvety, silky meatballs. But I’m hungry now and I can hold off for maybe half an hour. I need quick meatballs at times. Don’t we all?
This recipe, from Donna Hay’s (LOVE her!) newest cookbook, “Simple Dinners” totally satisfied my meatball cravings, and it didn’t take all day to make, so bonus! I really love her new book. Firstly, her food photography truly inspired me to pick up my camera and start shooting what I was cooking. I’d never even heard of Donna Hay when I picked up her first cookbook at Barnes and Noble. I honestly picked it up because the food photography was GLAMOROUS!
But her food is fantastic, too. I’ve made four recipes from the book so far and I’ve loved each of them. They’re made with basic ingredients and they’re not too tricky to make – perfect for quick, week-night meals when you’re dog-tired but still want something delicious to eat.
I’ll come clean and also admit that I was drawn to this dish because it had the word “Chinese” in it. Asian is hands-down my favorite cuisine. I can’t help it. And I was really excited about incorporating a meatball into an Asian dish. I’m a big fan of Ching-He Huang of “Easy Chinese” and I know there are traditional Chinese dishes that make use of the meatball, but this was my first time ever trying it. Asian flavors in a meatball? Yes, please!
Juicy, plump pork meatballs brimming with fresh ginger and lacquered with sesame seeds. Yes, please!
The traditional tomato-based spaghetti sauce has been replaced with an aromatic drizzling of sesame oil, garlic, fresh chilies and oyster sauce. Yes, please!!
Where a really good Italian meatball and spaghetti sauce is rich and dense and filling, this dish packed just as much umami flavor but was lighter and zingier. I’m really into zingy.
One change I made was the noodles I used. I did not have fresh egg noodles or Singapore noodles but I DID have wonderfully chewy Japanese Soba (buckwheat) noodles. I don’t think Donna would mind. Perhaps I should change the title from Chinese Noodles to Japanese Noodles … nah! Just use what you have.
Pork Meatballs with Chinese Noodles
(Adapted from Donna Hay’s “Simple Dinners” Cookbook)
Serves 4 (or two if you’re a little piglet like me …)
14oz fresh egg noodles or Singapore noodles (or any noodle you have on hand, really)
1lb ground pork
1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
1/2 cup sesame seeds (I found I used more than 1/2 cup, just fyi)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 long, red chilies, seeds removed and sliced
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
Cook noodles according to packaging and set aside. Place pork, breadcrumbs, ginger and Hoisin in a bowl and mix to combine. Shape tablespoonfuls (mine were probably double that size) of pork mixture into balls and roll in the sesame seeds. Heat the vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook 6-8 minutes per side or until cooked through. Set aside.
Wipe out the pan and add the sesame oil, garlic and chilies and cook for 2 minutes. Add the noodles, oyster sauce, stock and meatballs back to the pan and toss to heat through. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve.