Sweet-And-Sour Potluck Meatballs
Makes 45 mini-meatballs.
Note: To make fresh breadcrumbs, use stale bread (country or ciabatta loaves are best) and tear it into chunks. Place in food processor and proceed to make large flakes. Panko crumbs are larger and lighter than regular dry crumbs. Find fish sauce in the Asian section of your supermarket. From “The New Midwestern Table,” by Amy Thielen.
• 1 1/2 lb. ground pork
• 1/3 c. finely chopped peanuts
• 1/2 c. fresh breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs (see Note)
• 1 egg
• 1 c. finely minced cilantro (including stems)
• 4 green onions, white and green parts, minced
• 2 medium carrots, finely grated (3/4 c.)
• 3 tbsp. soy sauce, divided
• Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tbsp. canola oil
• 2 tbsp. grated peeled fresh ginger root
• 1 (28-oz.) can whole plum tomatoes (2 1/2 c. crushed), with juice
• 1/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
• 1 1/2 tsp. hot chili sauce, such as Sriracha, or more to taste
• 1 tbsp. fish sauce (see Note)
• 3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
In a large bowl, combine pork, peanuts, breadcrumbs, egg, cilantro, green onions, carrots, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Mix quickly with your hands to incorporate.
Using about 1 rounded tablespoon of meat mixture for each, roll 45 small meatballs, lining them up on a baking sheet with a little room between them. Bake until the tops turn golden, about 15 minutes.
Pour the whole tomatoes and their juices into a food processor and process until smooth.
In wide-bottomed nonreactive skillet, heat canola oil over medium-high heat. Add ginger and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, 3/4 cup water, brown sugar, chili sauce, remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and fish sauce. Simmer, stirring often and scraping sides until sauce has reduced by about half, 5 to 10 minutes. Turn off heat, add lime juice and season with salt.
Add meatballs to sauce and cook, stirring often, over medium-high heat until meatballs are glazed with sauce, 10 to 15 minutes. (At this point you can keep meatballs warm in a slow cooker.) As appetizers, serve on toothpicks. Or serve atop rice for an entree.