Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lemongrass-Chicken Meatballs on Rice Vermicelli

This may sounds kind of stupid, but I realized just recently that I love meatballs. It might sound a little less stupid when you consider I was a vegetarian for most of my life, or maybe not. Whatever. Anyway, my realization got me thinking that instead of just classic meatballs, I should explore some non-traditional recipes too. These meatballs satisfied both my new found fondness for meatballs and my craving for something a little different.

Makes 4 servings

Dipping sauce:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc mam)
1/4 cup distilled white or rice vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 carrot, shredded on the large holes of a box grater
2 Thai bird or serrano chiles, seeded and minced

Vermicelli and scallion oil:
10 ounces thin rice vermicelli
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
6 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

1 stalk lemongrass
1 pound ground chicken
1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc mam)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 Thai bird or serrano chile, seeded and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1.      To make the dipping sauce, bring 1/2 cup water and the granulated sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour into a bowl and let cool. Add the fish sauce, vinegar, garlic, carrot, and chiles and stir well.
2.      To prepare the vermicelli, place in a medium bowl and add enough hot tap water to cover. Let stand until the vermicelli is tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Drain again and return to the bowl. Toss with 1 teaspoon of the vegetable oil.
3.      To make the scallion oil, pour the remaining vegetable oil into a medium skillet. Add the garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add the scallions and cook, stirring often, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
4.      To make the meatballs, remove and discard the outer layers from the lemongrass to reveal the pale yellow inner stalk. Trim off the bulbous tip of the stalk. Using a very sharp knife, thinly slice the lemongrass into rounds until you reach the very tough upper stalk. Discard the upper stalk. Transfer the sliced lemongrass to a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade. Pulse about 12 times, until the lemongrass is finely minced. Measure 1 1/2 tablespoons of the minced lemongrass. (The remaining lemongrass can be frozen for up to 3 months.)
5.      Combine the minced lemongrass, ground chicken, shallots, fish sauce, cornstarch, chile, garlic, brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or up to 4 hours. Using your wet hands rinsed under cold water, shape the meat mixture into 12 equal meatballs.
6.      Prepare a medium-hot fire in an outdoor grill.
7.      To grill the meatballs with a basket, lightly oil the molds (a pump oil sprayer works best). Place the meatballs in the basket and close it. Place the basket on the cooking grate and cover. Grill the meatballs until the undersides are lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Flip the basket over and grill until the other sides are lightly browned and the meatballs are cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove the meatballs from the basket and transfer to a bowl.

To grill the meatballs without the basket, lightly oil the cooking grate. Place the meatballs on the grill and cover. Grill until the undersides are lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Flip the meatballs and cook until the other sides are browned and the meatballs are cooked through, about 4 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl.
8.      Pour the dipping sauce into 4 ramekins. Divide the rice vermicelli among 4 deep bowls. Top each with 3 meatballs and equal amounts of the scallion oil. Serve with the dipping sauce.

from I Love Meatballs by Rick Rodgers (epicurious.com)

all the meatballs ingredients
meatball ingredients mixed
I pan fried my meatballs because I didn't feel like
dealing with the grill. It was sheer laziness
(I didn't feel like putting my shoes and coat on).
lemongrass chicken meatballs
scallion oil

I think calling this scallion oil is a stretch
(since it's mostly scallions with very little oil).
mixing the dipping sauce ingredients
dipping sauce

We didn't dip our meatballs, we just poured the
dipping sauce over everything and mixed it all together.
softened rice vermicelli
lemongrass-chicken meatballs on rice vermicelli

1 comment:

Joe Kelly, Traverse Technolgies, Inc. said...

This looks awesome and will be going on next weeks meal plan

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