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.