Tsukune (Japanese Chicken Meatballs)

This one’s been on the to-make list for awhile, and we really liked it. It’d be nice with rice, but we just served it with some asparagus and fruit. They’d work well as an appetizer, too.

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Meatballs
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
4 ounces sliced shiitake mushroom caps
1 1/2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger, divided 
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic, divided 
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 teaspoons red miso (soybean paste) – I just used white miso
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken 
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 green onions, thinly sliced 
1 large egg white 

Sauce:
3 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
3 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice 
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger 
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
Remaining ingredients:
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

To prepare meatballs, heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add mushrooms, 1 tablespoon minced ginger, and 1 tablespoon garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add sherry; cook 3 minutes or until liquid evaporates and mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat; cool. Place mushroom mixture and miso in a mini chopper; pulse 10 times or until very finely chopped.

Combine mushroom mixture, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, chicken, and next 6 ingredients (through egg white) in a bowl. Shape mixture into 36 (1-inch) meatballs. Thread 3 meatballs onto each of 12 (6-inch) flat bamboo skewers. Chill for 30 minutes (this step is important, or they’ll fall apart).

To prepare sauce, combine mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Stir in juice, 2 teaspoons grated ginger, and serrano. Reserve 2 tablespoons sauce.

Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Place 6 skewers in pan; cook 9 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove from pan; brush half of sauce over meatballs. Repeat procedure with remaining 6 skewers and sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds; serve with reserved 2 tablespoons sauce.

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