China Entreemeatballs in sour sauce

Meatballs in Sour Sauce
(Serves 8)

Tangy-sour meatballs offer a refreshing change from sweet and sour. They also make terrific appetizers.

Beef & Marinade
2 lb. ground beef
1/4 C cold water
2 T rice wine or dry sherry
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. fresh ginger root (minced)
1/2 C scallion (chopped)
2 T soy sauce
2 T cornstarch
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 egg

6 C oil (for frying)
1/2 tsp. salt
4 C boiling water
6-8 large Chinese cabbage leaves (see Glossary)

Seasoning Sauce
1/2 C rice vinegar or white vinegar
1/2 C sugar
2 T soy sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
4 T cornstarch
1 1/3 C water
1/4 C chicken broth
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 bunches scallions (3" matchsticks)

Marinade: In a large bowl, combine ground beef with cold water, mixing for 1 minute. In a smaller bowl, combine remianing marinade ingredients and pour into meat, mixing until beef is sticky. Let it rest for 10 minutes.

Meatballs: Dip a teaspoon in cold water and scoop up 2 tsp. of beef mixture to form meatballs. Heat oil in large skillet or wok to 375 and carefully drop in meatballs, deep-frying for 2 minutes, batch at a time. Remove and drain each batch. When finished, turn up heat and deep-fry meatballs again, for only 30 seconds. This makes them extra crispy. Remove and drain. Pour out all but 1 T oil.

Cabbage: Bring water to boil in large saucepan and add 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook cabbage leaves for 30 seconds. Remove, drain well, and squeeze out excess moisture (leaves will be wilted). Arrange cabbage into a "bed" or "nest" on a platter.

Assembly: In a small bowl, combining all ingredients for seasoning sauce, except scallions. Set aside. Heat the 1 T oil left in wok for 1 minute. Stir-fry scallion "matchsticks" for 30 seconds. Add seasoning sauce, stirring till sauce thickens slightly. Add meatballs, mixing and coating with sauce. Spoon meatballs, scallions, and sauce into cabbage "nest" and serve hot with steamed rice.

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Tips & Glossary

Many ingredients used in Chinese cooking probably aren’t in your spice shelf, but you can find them at Asian grocery stores. To avoid frustration, make a list of the items before trying recipes.

Agar Agar: dried seaweed used as a gelatin. Buy it in sticks (or strips) and soak in cold water to soften.

Chili Oil: buy it or make your own. For a recipe, see Hunan Chicken.

Chinese Cabbage: aka “Nappa”;long, white stalks with light green crinkly leaves.

Deep Frying: use a deep-fry thermometer to reach the recipe's correct temperature; if the oil isn't hot enough, the food will be soggy. When cool, the oil can be strained, refrigerated, and re-used.

Dried Shrimp: tiny, salted, sun-dried shrimp that add a pungent flavor to Asian cooking. Soak before using.

Five-Spice Powder: blend of star anise, cinamon, cloves, fennel and Szechuan peppercorns. Like allspice.

Peppersalt: buy or make your own. Heat 2 T Szechuan peppercorns in skillet 5 min. Grind into powder and mix with 2 T salt.

Sauces: Hoisin (sweet, from soybeans); Oyster (like soy, from oysters); Sweet Bean (canned, salty, from soybeans); Hot Bean (hot & salty, from soybeans and peppers).

Sesame Paste: from gound sesame seeds; substitute with peanut butter.

Sweet Rice Powder: from glutinous rice; used in place of flour in many desserts.

Szechuan peppercorns: dried reddish berries, fragrant and mildly hot.


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