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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thai-Inspired Meatballs with Vinegar Pickled Cucumbers

A 5 star makeover cooking group is back! After taking a break for 2 months due to holidays, we're back to share our food passion again. I'm not going to lie. I like it. Year end and holidays are the busy time of work, family, and celebration. However, the brake gives us time to recharge ourselves and to welcome a year of Dragon.

On 23rd of January this year, in Asian culture it is considered a Lunar New Year. This year is a year of Dragon which most Asians believe that it's a good and powerful year. To me, the Lunar New Year is similar to Christmas here. Well, first - it's a time of family gathering. Second, there's lot of good food!. Thrid, red is a symbolic color for this holiday, and lastly, there's a thing called a red envelope with lucky money inside; just like a holiday gift.

Since I live here and not be able to celebrate this holiday with my family, what I miss the most is family time. A tradition of how to do things on this Lunar New Year brings back my good old memory. A certain way to arrange a food table, red color, certained must-have food, fire crackers, food spread, and a red envelope are my childhood memory.

Although, I didn't get a chance to help my mom make food, I got to make these meatballs in an honor of Lunar New Year! When I knew about this month theme, I was thrilled. Meatballs are fun to make and have several variations depending on your taste buds. I'm sure you can see the fun from the round-up of our cooking group on Friday from Natasha at Five Star Foodie and Lazaro at Lazaro Cooks.

before going into oven
My meatballs are a combination of ground pork, ground chicken, diced pork belly, cooked brown rice, minced cilantro, minced red basil, minced garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, pepper, sesame oil, and canola oil. I found out that my good friend, Lazaro, also added pork belly to his meat mixture too! As you know, we both love pork belly. There's no surpised we don't forget to include it to our meatballs.

They are filling because of rice in meatballs. You can serve as dinner or small appetizer.

Thai-inspired Meatballs with Vinegar Pickled Cucumbers and Carrots
Yield: 27-30 meatballs

Ingredients for meatballs:
1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground chicken breast
1/2 lb sliced pork belly, small diced
3/4 cups cooked brown rice
1 egg
1/2 cup minced cilantro
1/2 cup minced red basil
3 Tbs fish sauce
4 Tbs soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp white pepper
3 Tbs sesame oil
1 Tbs canola oil

  • Mix everything together until they are combined. Let it sit in a fridge for half hour for flavor to develop.
  • Pre heat oven to 400 F
  • Form the meat mixture into a 2 "ball.
  • Bake meatballs for about 30-35 mins until golden brown and cooked through.
  • You can keep baked meatballs in a refrigerator. Heat them up in a microwave until hot before serving or under oven at 350 F for 10-15 mins.
Vinegar pickled cucumber and carrot

Ingredients for vinegar pickled cucumber and carrots
Yield: 1 quart


  • 1 English cucumber, thingly sliced crosswise
  • 1/2 cup carrots, cut into sticks
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbs garlic chili paste
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Mix everything except cucumber and carrotstogether and microwave at high for about 2 mins. Whisk well and until sugar has dissolved. Pour the vinegar mixture over cucumber and carrots. Keep in a refrigirator for at least 4 hours. This can be kept for a few days.

Serve meatballs with pickled cucumber and carrots or over some salad. Drizzle about 1/2 Tbs or more over meatballs.

Meatball mixture

Right off the oven

Serve with pickled vegetable

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FOODalogue said...

Great job! I love Asian fusion and have made ground pork meatballs with those flavors. Your meat mix is much more interesting and I like the addition of rice. Pickled cucumbers is the perfect accompaniment to this dish.

I'll be joining the group next month and can't wait to see what the theme will be.

Anonymous said...

Excellent flavors in these meatballs and the vinegar pickled cucumbers are terrific to go with the meatballs!

Linda Harding said...

Well done! That meatball mix sounds heavenly - and I love the homemade pickles!

Trix said...

I would definitely make a satisfying dinner out of these! They have every good thing in them, and the pickled veggies really put it over the top. Happy New Year!

Pacheco Patty said...

Love the meatballs and the pickled cucumbers, looks so good! Happy New Year Tanantha! Hope you have a great and strong year;-)

Angie's Recipes said...

Love the flavours of those meatballs! Pickled cucumbers pair pair perfectly with the meatballs.

Lazaro Cooks said...


Love the recipe. Beautifully plated. And yes, one can never go wrong with belly of pork.

We truly need to have a pork belly feast together you & I...someday.

Be Good

Priscilla - She's Cookin' said...

Happy Lunar New Year, T! I always love your recipes and your Asian fusion meatball is no exception. Wonderful flavors and pickled cucumbers accent them perfectly! I'm going to be making a lot of meatballs in the next few weeks :)

Magic of Spice said...

Happy Lunar New Year T~
Wow, what a beautiful combination you have here! The flavors are wonderfully paired and would indeed make a satisfying meal...and love the pickled veggies, must try it with carrots soon :)
Gorgeous contribution to the challenge!

angela@spinachtiger said...

Happy New Year. WOnderful that you could tie the challenge in with a special holiday. I'll bet that pork belly added a lot of flavor.

Marisa said...

These are a nice way to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Love that you incorporated pork belly. And those pickled vegetables sound awesome. Great job!

lostpastremembered said...

One of my favorite winter recipes is pork ball soup with many of these ingredients. I just love your version and having them with cool crispy pickles. Well done.

Cheap Ethnic Eatz said...

What a great Asian inspired meatball recipe for the Lunar New Year. And the pickled cucumber is interesting.

Nic@diningwithastud said...

These look so delicious! I def want to make these. Perhaps this weekend :)

Jessica @ Bacon and Souffle said...

You always add the best and most interesting spices to your dishes! Love the Thai-inspired meatballs. And balancing the flavors with pickled cucumbers, mmmm. I love the idea!

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