"A meatball never says 'Look at me, aren't I clever?' It just says 'Eat me.' -Nigel Slater
And that is just one of the things I love about meatballs. Another is they can successfully be made of any meat, whether you grind (or mince) your own, or buy it -all meat makes tasty meatballs. Ground meat, seasonings, a binder, and a carbohydrate to absorb the moisture are the components needed to make meatballs, but the possible variations within each of these individual components is almost limitless. These meatballs I made are perfect in this sauce, but they would also be fantastic served with Sweet Chili Sauce, my Red Pepper Jam, or any number of other possibilities.
Meatballs for Sweet and Pungent Sauce
2 c. ground chicken, turkey, or rabbit
3/4 c. bread crumbs (I used Italian Seasoned bread crumbs)
1/4 c. soy milk
1 T. oyster sauce
1 T. dried parsley
1 t. Worcestershire Sauce
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 small onion, minced
Form small meatballs and refrigerate (they'll hold their shape better during cooking). I simply mixed this all together this time, but if the onion and garlic had been sauteed in a bit of oil or butter first, they would have been even better.
And another thing I love about meatballs: they freeze well. I froze half of these and now I have meatballs waiting to be cooked at a moments notice.
Meatballs can be baked, pan fried, or as I did here, deep fried. Deep fried tofu cubes in this Chinese-style sauce is one of my well-received vegetarian stand-bys. I wanted meatballs AND tofu cubes when I made this, and since I already had the oil hot, I deep-fried these meatballs. If I have any vegetarians at the table, it is easy enough to serve the tofu and meat separately with this, and of course, the tofu is not necessary with the meatballs.
I learned to make Sweet and Pungent Sauce from The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook (you could spend a lifetime cooking with just this book), and I have been making variations of it for years. A bare-bones version (no meatballs, no tofu, little or no vegetables) is my daughter's go-to recipe when food and money are low, and we both have made it at different levels between the bare-bones and this whole-hog version. It is incredibly flexible and all versions are good served over rice.
Sweet and Pungent Sauce
Bring 3/4 c. water to a boil.
1/2 c. sugar, brown sugar or honey
1/2 c. vinegar (cider or white)
1-2 T. catsup or tomato sauce
2 minced garlic cloves
few drops each Tabasco and Worcestershire Sauce
Add what you have, or desire, of the following, or any other vegetables you choose to add:
1 carrot, peeled and sliced (I prefer less crisp carrot slices, and add them to the water at the beginning of the recipe)
1/2 red or green bell pepper, sliced or cut in chunks
1/2 onion, sliced in crescents
1 medium Roma tomato (I left this out)
5-6 mushrooms, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced (I'm not overly fond of celery and almost always leave this out)
8 oz. pineapple chunks
Bring to a boil. Blend and add:
1/4 c. cold water
1 T. cornstarch
1 T. soy sauce
Add, or serve over, fried tofu cubes, shrimp, chicken, or meatballs. And serve with rice.