• January 29, 2013

    Thai Pork Meatballs & Sweet Chili Sauce


    I love the flavours of Thailand – ginger, chili, garlic, lemongrass, lime – and the perfect balance of sweet-salty-sour-hot that winds its way through the nation’s cuisine, singing perfect high notes on your tastebuds.

    These meatballs are packed with all those bright flavours. They’re perfect for a party, with this sticky sweet chili sauce as their escort. You could spear them with toothpicks, or do like I did and serve them with torn lettuce leaves and cucumber slices. It’s messy, but fun.

    To make them, whir all the ingredients – other than the pork – in a food processor to achieve a fine mince. Then use your hands to work the mixture into the meat, and make little balls between dampened palms. I like to employ my little cookie scoop to make even portions, before rolling them into shape.

    They’re baked in the oven – and as such, couldn’t be simpler. No standing over a oil-sputtering frying pan. You can make them in advance and freeze (uncooked), reducing oven temperature by 25 degrees and increasing cooking time by about 10 minutes when you’re ready to serve them.

    If not as an appetizer, you could serve them for dinner with coconut rice. Yum. A bit of brightness as we round the bend on January…

    How’ve you been? If you’re on the East coast, I hope you’re staying warm! It reached somewhere close to -40 C/F in my hometown (Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada)  last week. YIPE!

    Heavily adapted from this recipe on epicurious.

    Thai Pork Meatballs & Sweet Chili Sauce

    Prep Time15 mins
    Cook Time25 mins
    Total Time40 mins
    Course: Appetizer
    Cuisine: Thai
    Servings: 8
    Author: Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD


    For Meatballs:

    • 2 lemongrass stalks tender inner part, bottom 4 inches only
    • 3 shallots peeled
    • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
    • 3 green onions
    • 1 inch piece ginger peeled
    • 1 small jalapeno
    • 1 carrot peeled and coarsely chopped
    • 2 tbsp fish sauce
    • 1 tsp coarse salt
    • 1 1/2 lbs ground pork

    For Sauce:

    • 1/4 cup lime juice
    • 1/4 cup fish sauce
    • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
    • 2 tbsp grated carrot
    • 2 tbsp grated cucumber
    • 3 tbsp chili paste such as sambal olek

    For serving:

    • 1 head of iceberg or butter lettuce leaves separated (and large ones torn)
    • 1/4 large cucumber thinly sliced


    • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
    • Combine all ingredients except pork in a food processor and pulse until minced. Transfer to a large bowl and add pork; use your hands to thoroughly combine.
    • Form meatballs, using 1 rounded tablespoon of pork mixture each, and place on parchment-lined baking sheets 1 inch apart. Bake 25 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.
    • Meanwhile, make sauce by combining all ingredients in a medium bowl. Transfer to serving dish.
    • Serve meatballs in lettuce cups with a slice of cucumber and a drizzle of sauce - I recommend putting out the components and letting guests assemble their own!

    Hi, I'm Jennifer Pallian, BSc, RD. I studied cooking, baking and food chemistry in a university lab, have years of experience as a professional test kitchen recipe developer and providing technical baking support to bakeries and home bakers. Want to know why your bread didn't rise? I've got your back.I now work full-time as a blogger, putting the years of science and baking to work right here. On Foodess, I share the best recipes in my arsenal - tested-till-PERFECT recipes for cozy baking, easy recipes for weeknight meals and delicious globally-inspired comfort food, plus lots of science-based cooking and baking tips. Welcome!

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