Meatballs may have had their heyday in the 70s but hoisin sauce elevates these old favorites to a new level of groovy. Hoisin, a Chinese sauce made from ground soybeans, vinegar, garlic, salt and spices, has a distinct sweet and spicy flavor perfect for use as a glaze or dipping sauce. But don’t let the Hoisin sauce fool you – the basic meatball technique is here, just smothered in Hoisin meatball sauce.
Here’s what you need to know to make meatballs and have them cook up perfectly tender and moist, every time.
How to Make Meatballs – Tips
1. Choose meat – or a mix of meats – with a a little fat in them. Fat = flavor and in the case of meatballs, moisture. Substitute ground chicken or even a meatball mix of ground pork, beef and veal to suit your tastes. Keep in mind, the more fat in your ground meat the more tender your meatballs will be.
2. Handle your meatball mix minimally. Use your hands to gently mix your ingredients, just until evenly combined. Too much handling will make your meatballs tough. Too much pressure from a spatula or wooden spoon can break down the meat, turning it into a chewy mash instead of tender, seasoned bits of ground meat.
3. The size of your meatballs should depend on how you’ll serve them. For bite-sized starters – like those Hoisin Meatballs up there – think small, just large enough to spear with a toothpick and toss back with one bite. If you want to serve them with spaghetti (in your traditional marinara sauce), go a little larger. Two bites per meatball.
4. I like to bake my meatballs. You can sear them in a little olive oil on the stovetop, but baking cooks them quickly (and easily) and keeps them tender. (Sense a theme here?) A few minutes in a hot oven then simmer them in your sauce of choice (I highly recommend this Hoisin Meatball sauce). The quick roast followed by a simmer in the sauce will help keep your meatballs — you guessed it — tender!
Rubber Spatula or Wooden Spoon
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Hoisin Meatball Sauce:
- 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
- 3/4 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 3/4 teaspoons freshly-squeezed lime juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3/4 teaspoon -1 teaspoon sriracha
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon of Hoisin Meatball Sauce
- Sesame seeds, optional for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with foil.
- Stir all sauce ingredients together in a medium pot over medium high heat. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Gently combine ground beef, garlic, breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon of the sauce in a large bowl.
- Shape mixture into 1-inch meatballs and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake meatballs for 10-12 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from oven and add meatballs to sauce.
- Stir gently until meatballs are evenly coated and simmer 3-5 minutes.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired. Serve with toothpicks.
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