Recipe video above. The beautiful, fresh Thai flavour in these meatballs are amazing! Truly like something you'd get at those posh Thai restaurants. These aren't authentic Thai, as far as I know there really aren't meatballs in Thai cuisine (at least, not like this, they have them in soups), but all the flavourings in this are real-deal-Thai.
Servings: 4 people (25 meatballs)
- 500 g / 1 lb pork mince (ground pork, or chicken)
- 1 tbsp lemongrass paste (or finely chopped fresh) (Note 1)
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 3 kaffir lime leaves, stem removed and very finely shredded, optional extra (Note 2)
- 3 Thai or birds eye chillies , seeds removed and finely chopped (Note 3)
- 1/4 cup coriander/cilantro , leaves and stem finely chopped (Note 4)
- 1 tsp sugar (any)
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (can sub with soy sauce if required)
- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (+ extra 1/4 cup if needed)
- 1 small egg
- Oil spray
Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce:
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml sweet chilli sauce , store bought (Note 5)
- 1 garlic clove , minced
- 2 tbsp lime juice , plus more to taste
- Coriander/cilantro leaves , finely sliced large red chillies
Preheat oven to 220C/430F (standard) or 200C/390F (fan / convection).
Place a rack on a tray (optional, rack keeps balls slightly rounder).
Place Meatball ingredients in a bowl (except oil spray), mix well with your hands. Only use extra breadcrumbs if necessary - sometimes, chicken mince can be quite wet. Scoop up 1 slightly heaped tablespoon and roll into a ball (about 3cm / 1.25" diameter). (Note 6 for my way)
Spray rack well with oil and place the meatballs on the rack.
Spray meatballs generously with oil, then bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until a bit browned. They should be beautifully soft - see video!
Serve warm with Sauce, garnished with coriander and chillies if desired.
1. LEMONGRASS: I use paste in the video, so you can see what it looks like. Lemongrass paste is sold in the fresh herbs section (fridge) at supermarkets in Australia. They are a terrific easy substitute for fresh, and it's perfectly acceptable! A Malaysian friend of mine also told me that "everyone" in her family uses frozen finely chopped lemongrass which you can buy from Asian stores, this would also work great. To use fresh, peel off the green outer reedy part, then finely chop the soft white part. You'll need 1 very large or 2 normal lemongrass sticks for this.
2. Kaffir lime leaves: this is an optional extra that will really give these meatballs an edge that is like what you get from really great Thai restaurants. But even without, these meatballs are a cut above the usual Thai meatball recipes, so don't fret if you can't find them! They are not the leaves of normal lime trees, they are different trees. Used in many south easy Asian cuisines, they are limey but have an earthy flavour. In Australia, you'll find them in Woolies, Coles, Harris Farms, fruit & veg stores (herb section) and of course, Asian stores.
THEY FREEZE GREAT and last for months and months. Then use for: Coconut rice, Beef Rendang, Mango Red Curry. Finely slice and add to South East Asian salads and stir fries, use whole in soups and curries. It's a secret ingredient that will make people stop and ask "tell me your secret!!"
DRIED KAFFIR LIME LEAVES can be substituted, but because they are not as aromatic as fresh, add the zest of 1 fresh lime as well. Use 1 tsp of finely crushed dried kaffir lime leaves (use your hands or finely chop).
3. Chillies: 3 Thai or birds eye chillies makes it moderately spicy, not blow-your-head-off. :) Thai all the way! Dial it down by using only 1 if you are concerned. Or, use large red chillies (like cayenne) which are not as spicy (smaller chilli = spicier), and use 1/2 of one, that way you'll get the little red bits in the meatballs without the heat. Or skip it if you really want, it won't change the flavour, just means they won't be spicy.
4. Coriander / cilantro: Watch the video: bundle up the leafy end tightly then finely chop. Use the stem as well as the leaves, great flavour in the stem!
5. Sweet Chilli Sauce: I make this with store bought sauce because it's not the star in this dish and when it's doctored, it makes a great sauce. However, if you would like to make your own, here is the recipe (1st photo in post):
125ml/1/2 cup water, 2.5 tbsp sugar (any), 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar, 1 long red chilli and 1 birds eye chilli (finely chopped,seeds reserved), 1 cm 2/5" ginger (julienned), 2 cloves garlic finely chopped, dash of fish sauce, 1 tsp sriracha, 1.5 tsp corn starch dissolved in 2 tsp water. Bring sugar and water to boil in small saucepan over medium heat. Add vinegar, chillies, ginger and garlic. Simmer, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved and liquid is reduced by a quarter. Add the fish sauce and stir in the chilli sauce. Drizzle in the corn starch slurry while continuously stirring over heat, until mixture thickens into thin syrup. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature, will thicken as it cools.
6. Rolling Meatballs: Here's how I roll meatballs in a bid to be speedy - measure and dollop all the mixture using a cookie scoop (I use a 1 tbsp one) onto a work surface. THEN roll them. Rather than doing them one by one. I promise this is faster!
7. Make ahead: Freeze raw on a tray then to save space, transfer into bags / containers. Thaw then bake per recipe. They also reheat great in the microwave!
8. Side suggestions for a meal: Thai Fried Rice (skip the meat) + slices of tomato and cucumber (very Thai), Asian Noodle Salad, use the dressing from this Thai Beef Salad to make a giant Asian leafy salad.
9. Nutrition per serving, assuming this serves 4 as a meal.
Serving: 190g | Calories: 486kcal