Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thai Poppers with Peanut Sauce

This is my tiny home. As I get older, a little, bright apartment wins over a large, dark one. In my twenties, I lived in gloomy, light-deprived apartments. I'm grateful for a sunny space with large windows. 

I'm infatuated with an eclectic mix of French and Asian decor. I also have a devotion to weaving Asian flavors in my cooking. Southeast Asian cuisine is an absolute favorite of mine. 

This recipe is lively with lime, chili and basil. The smooth peanut dipping sauce pairs well with the meatballs. The combo is tasty and fun. The meatballs make a great cocktail party food too. The peanut dipping sauce is a breeze to make and compliments the assertive flavors of the meatballs. The sauce is also good with chicken kabobs or broiled chicken. You can round out this meal by steaming some jasmine rice  or by chopping some baby cucumbers and dressing them with a little sea salt and lime.

Thai Meatball Poppers with Dipping Sauce Recipe 

  Makes 18-20 mini meatballs

Some Notes

I use 85% organic ground beef here, but I suppose you can swap it for leaner ground beef, ground turkey or ground chicken for lighter meatballs. Adjust the cooking times accordingly. 

These beef meatballs cook very fast. Instead of pan frying, they're broiled for about 8 minutes, keeping them on the healthier side. 

It's important to really run your knife over the scallions and chili pepper, almost mincing them. This way, the veggies will cook along with the meat.  I use a microplane zester to grate the ginger and zest the lime.  

Thai basil has a strong flavor and is just delicious, but regular basil will work just fine here too.

Thai peppers come in red and green. They're very hot. I find them in my regular supermarket. Use all or part of whatever kind of chili pepper floats your boat. If you don't want to seek out a fresh chili pepper, swap it for sriracha sauce. Removing the seeds and veins of the pepper will reduce the heat. 

Ingredients For the Meatballs

  • 1 pound of ground beef. I used grass fed, organic, 85% lean. You can swap it for ground turkey or ground chicken 
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • All or part of one tiny Thai pepper or jalapeno pepper, minced. I used one red Thai pepper.  
  • 4 scallions, diced very finely
  • 2-3 limes, zest half of one and reserve   
  • Handful of fresh Thai or regular basil and fresh mint, diced finely.
  • 3 tablespoons of coconut milk from one full fat can. Try to take some of the coconut cream from the top of the can. 
  • Tiny drizzle of honey or pinch of sugar (optional)
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Neutral tasting oil or coconut oil for cooking
  • To Serve: Thai basil, lime wedges, peanut dipping sauce, steamed rice, cucumbers, lime wedges

Ingredients For the Peanut Sauce

  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter. I use an all natural brand without salt.
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup of coconut milk, lite or regular. I use full fat Thai Kitchen brand.
  • Sea salt to taste


Prepare the peanut dipping sauce by putting the peanut butter in a large bowl and vigorously stirring it with the coconut milk. The large bowl ensures there won't be any spattering. At first, it will look lumpy and watery. Eventually, the 2 ingredients combine into a smooth sauce. Add a few squeezes of lime juice from one lime. Stir in a good pinch or two of salt if you're using a unsalted peanut butter. Set aside.

Preheat the broiler on high. Line a large baking pan with tinfoil. Spray the tin foil with cooking spray or coat with a drizzle of neutral tasting oil.

In another large bowl, add the meatball ingredients up to and including the sea salt. Combine the ingredients without over mixing. Wet or oil your hands and form the meatballs into round balls the size of large marbles or walnuts. Place on the prepared baking tray and broil them for about 8-10 minutes. The inside should be cooked through but still very juicy. Serve with the peanut sauce, fresh lime wedges and other suggestions. Enjoy!


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