Japanese Tsukune... Glazed Chicken Meatballs. I've been stuck on Japanese food for sometime now, as you can tell from my previous posts. But I didn't want to skip this recipe... a recipe for making some real flavorful Japanese chicken meatballs. Meatballs always seem to be a favorite, with kids and adults alike. They're just good... however you make them.
So one day, as I was looking through some archives on a favorite blog, the GingerCookies, I came across a Japanese meatball recipe... the Tsukune. Immediately I loved the recipe, and I had most of the ingredients in the house... which always, always makes it much easier to execute a recipe on the spur of the moment:).
But I especially liked the recipe because the meatballs were made with chicken meat. I use chicken in quite a bit of my cooking, so I tend to have some in the freezer most days. Usually I have a variety of cuts, either individually wrapped or in small batches. Ground chicken is a favorite to freeze, because it comes in real handy when making quick dishes.
So that particular day, on the spur of the moment, I took out my 1 pound bag of ground chicken from the freezer and defrosted it to make these Japanese meatballs. I ended up cooking the meatballs 2 ways... half the batch was cooked in a skillet in a bit of oil, while the second batch was baked in my toaster oven, using the broiler. Both ways worked well, though the skillet method brought in more flavor from the browning(of course:))... but they were also a bit flatter, probably due to my meat mixture being a bit soft. However, the toaster oven method resulted in rounder meatballs, though lighter in color. In the end they were both good:).
I combined both sets of cooked meatballs in a skillet and then added the sauce I had cooked in a pan earlier. In order for the sauce to coat the meatballs and not be runny, I cooked the meatballs and sauce together in the skillet for couple of minutes or so... just enough for the sauce to thicken and glaze the meatballs nicely. The glaze is minimal on the meatballs... so if you like more sauce, you might want to double the sauce recipe.
The meatballs are great served as an appetizer, with a favorite dipping sauce. Or they can be served on top of a bowl of rice.... maybe with a side of vegetables. Here is yet another way to make meatballs, a bit different than the norm, but flavorful and quite delicious. Hope you enjoy...
Note: I wanted to make this dish gluten-free, so I omitted any form of breadcrumbs as per Veronika's recipe on Ginger Cookies... but if you feel your meat is a bit too loose, you can add some breadcrumbs, or increase the cornstarch amount by a couple of tablespoons.
You will need: inspired by GingerCookies
1 lb ground chicken
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp dry garlic flakes (or 1 crushed garlic clove)
4-6 TBS cornstarch
2-3 green onions, chopped finely
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp sugar
2 tsps coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
8 slices dried shitake mushrooms, soaked, stems removed and squeezed dry (or 2 whole fresh)
Sauce: if you like, you can use a sweet and sour sauce here... to make it easier on a weeknight:)
1/4 cup mirin (I used white wine)
1/4 cup coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
2 tsps ginger juice
2 TBS rice vinegar
2 TBS honey (can use sugar)
chile flakes, optional
salt and pepper, if needed
1-1/2 tsp cornstarch+ 1-1/2 TBS water, mixed
1. Soak dried shitake in hot water until soft.
2. In the meantime, place rest of the meat ingredients in a bowl.
3. When mushrooms are soft and fully hydrated, drain, squeeze dry and remove stem... then chop finely.
4. Place mushrooms in bowl with meat mixture.
5. Combine all meat ingredients and cover. If you feel the meat mixture is too loose, you can add some breadcrumbs, or a couple more tablespoons of cornstarch. Place in fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.
6. Form walnut size meatballs... you may need to wet hands to prevent the meat from sticking to hands.
7. If baking meatballs in oven: Place meatballs on parchment paper lined sheet pan. Bake in toaster oven using broiler heat... for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked.
If frying meatballs: Heat a large skillet on medium heat, add about 1/4 cup oil... when oil is hot, add meatballs. Cook on one side till golden, flip and cook second side till meatballs are cooked through. Remove meatballs and set aside.
Note: Frying gives the meat extra color, but the meatballs sort of loose their round shape(my meat mixture was a bit loose). Baking them kept a more round shape, but weren't as deep colored. You can opt to add a bit more cornstarch(or breadcrumbs), if you find your meat mixture is too loose.
8. Make sauce:
In a saucepan, add sauce ingredients, bring to a boil, then add cornstarch slurry, whisk to combine and heat till thickened. remove from heat.
9. In a skillet on low heat, combine sauce and meatballs... cook stirring until sauce adheres to meatballs and glazes them nicely.
10. Place meatballs on wooden skewers. Serve with sushi rice and a sprinkle of chopped green onions.