Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Perfect Bite: Asian Chicken Meatballs With Sweet & Tangy Dipping Sauce

Yesterday was a milestone day for Houston Texans football fans...after many years of disappointment and letdown, the team finally played in its first-ever playoff game!! Even better? The game was at home...and best of all? We WON!!! For such a momentous occasion, I planned a little football spread for us to eat while we watched the game. On the menu was store-bought herbed goat cheese spread and baguettes, amazing Sour Cream and Onion Cheddar Bacon Dip from Cooking Underwriter's blog, wings from Buffalo Wild Wings...and the amazing little appetizer I'm going to share with you here today.

Don't get me wrong...I love traditional gameday foods as much as the next hungry football fan. But, I also love to shake things up a bit and try something new. I had made a mental note to try these Asian Chicken Meatballs during the holiday season, but never got around to it. I had a feeling they'd be the perfect thing for yesterday's menu, and I was right. These little babies are easy to whip up and full of all sorts of fun flavors. Ground chicken breast combines with cream cheese, chopped water chestnuts and cashews, and seasoning. The pan-fried bites are served with a quick spicy sweet-sour dipping sauce.

Asian Chicken Meatballs with 
Sweet & Tangy Dipping Sauce
adapted from Spread a Little Joy

Step 1:  Add the following ingredients to a mixing bowl: 1 lb. ground chicken breast, 4 ounces softened cream cheese, zest of one lime, 2 tbs. chopped parsley, 3 sliced green onions, two grated or finely minced cloves garlic, 1/2 cup diced water chestnuts, 1/3 cup chopped cashews, 1 tsp. ground ginger, and 1 tsp. salt. Combine until all ingredients are evenly mixed together...a sturdy spoon is fine, but I found that clean hands work best of all!

Step 2:  Heat 2 tbs. canola oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Shape the meatball mixture into 15 meatballs. Dredge the meatballs in flour, pushing down slightly to flatten a bit. Add half of the meatballs to the skillet; cook for 4 minutes per side, until golden. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels while you repeat with the remaining meatballs and an additional 2 tbs. of oil.

Step 3:  Make the dipping sauce. Combine the following ingredients in a small saucepan on med-low heat: 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1 tbs. fish sauce, 2 tbs. chile sauce, and 1 tbs. soy sauce. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, then simmer for five minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. Pour the sauce into a small bowl and place in the middle of the serving plate. Arrange the chicken meatballs around the bowl and serve.

I wanted to make sure to include a picture of the interior of these cakes so you can see how full of flavors/textures they are inside. They're a crispy on the outside, but the inside is just slightly creamy thanks to the cream cheese. The cashews and water chestnuts provide the crunch and texture to make it interesting. The flavor of these meatballs reminds me a bit of the inside of a pot-sticker or dumpling...with more personality! 

I think the sauce is vital to the really brings it all together. It's sweet and tangy...with just a hint of heat from the chile sauce. If you like more heat, add a pinch of red pepper flakes. I plan to do that next time. And there will definitely be a next time. My Texans won yesterday, so they'll be playing the Baltimore Ravens in the next round of the playoffs next weekend. I think you can see where this is going...

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