Spicy Caramel-Glazed Meatballs with Peanuts, Pickled Vegetables, Basil & Fried Shallots


Spicy Caramel-Glazed Meatballs with Peanuts, Pickled Vegetables, Basil & Fried Shallots ~ 

Serves 6

These slightly spicy meatballs make a great appetizer. Use decorative skewers and sprinkle the meatballs with the garnishes. The caramel will help the garnishes to stick to the meatballs. They're also a fun dinner served over cooked rice noodles and served with quick sautéd vegetables.

Pork Meatballs:

  • 1 Lbs ground pork (20% fat)

  • 2 tsp potato or corn starch

  • 1 tsp sea salt

  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1 Tbls water

  • 1 Tbls toasted sesame oil

  • 1 Tbls Sriracha

  • 4 scallions, minced

  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 Tbls coconut oil or other high heat cooking oil

Spicy Caramel:

  • 1/2 cup sugar, see below to replace sugar with honey

  • 3 tablespoons water

  • 2 Tbls lime juice

  • 2 Tbls fish sauce

  • 2 Thai chilies, thinly sliced

Pickles: Fermented vegetables can repack these pickles and would also be delicious.

  • 2 carrots, peeled

  • 8 oz daikon, peeled

  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided

  • 1 tsp salt, divided

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 1/2 cup warm water

Garnishes, choose one or all:


  • 2-3 Tbls toasted coconut flakes

  • 3 Tbls toasted peanuts, chopped

  • Thinly sliced Thai or Italian basil

  • Fried shallots (found in the grocery store Asian section)

  • Cooked rice noodles

Make the pickles:

  1. Cut the vegetables into long matchsticks. You can also use a mandoline or Cuisinart with the matchstick or shredding attachment.

  2. Place the cut vegetables in a colander and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt, massage lightly and let them sit for 10 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, add the sugar, salt, vinegar, and water and simmer just long enough to melt the sugar. Cool.

  4. Rinse the vegetables and place them in a small heat-proof container or mason jar. Pour the pickling liquid over the vegetables. Cool and then chill. Pickles can be made the day before.

Make the meatballs:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk the starch, salt, baking soda, water, sesame oil, hot sauce, scallions, and garlic together until combined.

  2. Place the pork in a bowl and add the seasoning mixture. Blend quickly, just enough to well combine the the prok with the seasoning. Don’t overmix; the fat will melt and the meatballs will have a tough texture. This can also be done in the bowl of a pre-chilled mixing bowl with a paddle attachment or a pre-chilled food processor bowl with blade attachment. Stop mixing as soon as ingredients are blended together.

  3. Chill the pork mixture for 30 minutes to an hour (or more) before cooking.

  4. Form the pork into heaping 1-inch balls, and place onto a pan lined with parchment and chill for 10 minutes before cooking.

Cooking the meatballs:

  1. In a small bowl combine the lime juice, fish sauce, and thai chilies. Set aside.

  2. *Make the caramel by putting the sugar and water in a clean, grease-free saucepan.

  3. Heat on low to dissolve the sugar, stirring. Brush down the sides of the pan with water to melt any sugar crystals. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat to medium high and stop stirring.

  4. Allow the sugar to caramelize gently swirling the pan occasionally. It should caramelize to a medium amber.

  5. Very slowly stir in the lime, chili mixture.

  6. Let the caramel reduce until lightly syrupy and strain it through a fine mesh metal sieve into a small bowl.

  7. Heat a clean sauté pan on medium high heat and add the coconut oil.

  8. Sear the meatballs just to brown and then drizzle them with the caramel sauce. Continue cooking the meatballs, spooning the caramel over the meatballs, until browned and crispy on the outside and cooked though in the middle.

*To replace the sugar:

  1. Substitute 3 Tbls. of honey for the sugar. Add the honey, lime juice, fish sauce, and thai chili to the pan with the meatballs once they have browned. The dish won’t have the same sticky caramazed affect but will have the sweetness.

  2. Use fermented vegetables instead of the pickled vegetables.

To serve: Brush the top of pork meatballs with more of the coconut caramel. Drain the pickles well and sprinkle over the meatballs, along with the peanut, coconut flakes, and basil.




Belgian Endive with Curried Pumpkin Mousse

Walnuts are the perfect garnish but so is roasted delicata squash moons (see Endive with Winter Fruit recipe) or fresh truffles if you have them laying around. Winky face. This "pumpkin mousse" is also delicious served with crackers. Makes about 48

  • ¼ cup minced shallots
  • 2 Tbls. butter
  • 1 Tbls. curry powder
  • 2 cups canned or fresh pumpkin puree
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • Sea salt and cayenne to taste
  • 4 to 6 heads Belgian endive, separated into individual leaves
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts

Place several layers of paper towel in a large sieve and add pumpkin to drain for several hours. 

In a small sauté pan, cook the shallots in the butter over medium heat, stirring until soft.  Add the curry powder and cook one minute. Cool. In a food processor, puree the shallots, pumpkin, curry and cream cheese until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper. Chill. 

Spoon or pipe filling onto endive.  Sprinkle with walnuts.  The endive can be chilled for 2 hours before serving.

  • The filling can be made a day ahead.  It can also be served as a spread for vegetables and crackers (rye crackers are good), or the rye bread sticks from Trader Joes.  

Endive with Winter Fruit, Honeyed Walnuts & Balsamic Glaze

This is a simple but lovely appetizer. The endive can be stuffer ahead and drizzled with the glaze last minute. Fool around with different fruits.

Makes 16

  • 2 to 3 bulbs Belgian endive to make 16 leaves
  • 2 Tbls. honey
  • 3 Tbls. orange juice
  • ¼-cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ½ oz. (1/3 cup) fresh goat cheese (Chévre)
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 Tbls. minced chives (optional)
  • Fruit, choose one or use a mixture of fruits:
    • Oranges: 16 orange segments, membrane removed (or Mandarin oranges; drain and pat dry) Blood oranges are lovely here.
    • Fuyu Persimmons: halve through core and slice thinly
    • Roasted Grapes: In a 450˚F oven, roast 1 cup grapes on a parchment-lined baking dish just until the pop and release juices, 5-8 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
    • Delicata squash: wash one squash and slice lengthwise. De-seed and slice thinly into half-moons. In a 450˚F oven, toss squash with a teaspoon of olive oil and roast squash on a parchment-lined baking dish just until tender and golden. Cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Toss the nuts and 1 tablespoon honey in a small bowl and spread on the cookie sheet.  Bake 5 to 10 minutes or until golden, stirring once.  Cool.  Combine remaining honey, orange juice, and vinegar in a small saucepan and simmer to reduce to 3 tablespoons watching closely.  Cool.  

Separate and fill each leaf with 1 tsp. of cheese, then the walnuts, and lastly, one piece of fruit. Chill until ready to serve. Drizzle with the glaze using a teaspoon and sprinkle with chives if using.