Gather around a tasty and fun platter of food with your closest friends. Leave any shred of table etiquette behind when you share these spicy chicken meatballs, served Southeast Asian ‘street-food-style’ in lettuce wraps that are eaten with your hands. Assembling these flavor bombs loaded with veggies, sauces and delicious chicken is a messy, delicious, guaranteed crowd pleaser that will leave you with sticky fingers and lots of laughs. Just be sure to have plenty of hand wipes nearby for clean up!
For the Meatballs:
You can buy ready ground chicken for the recipe, but you will get much better results if you buy chicken thighs and grind the meat yourself. I have given instructions for a food processor, but if you have a meat grinder then by all means use that. Ground turkey and pork will work too. Skinless chicken breast is not suitable, as the meat will be too dry. If you are using pork, add a couple of extra minutes to the cooking time. The meatballs are baked in the oven for just 10 minutes and basted with a honey/soy sauce mixture halfway through for added flavor and moisture. Any leftover meatballs, rice and vegetables will make delicious fried rice the next day. Quantities given are for about 4 people.
1.5 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 1 1/4 pounds when trimmed)
1 large shallot finely minced.
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 one-inch piece of fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp. low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. Thai fish sauce (preferably Red Boat brand)
1 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp. cornstarch
Fresh black pepper
¼ tsp of fine sea salt
1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. honey
Trim the chicken thighs of visible fat and cut into one-inch pieces. Place in the freezer for half an hour, this will make them easier to chop. Place half of the chicken in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and grind to a coarse mince. It should only take about 20 seconds. Set aside and repeat with remaining meat. Check halfway through the process to make sure you are not over-grinding, which will result in a thick paste!
Place the ground meat in a large bowl and add the minced scallion and garlic. Grate the ginger directly into the mixture using a fine micro plane grater. Add the soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, fish sauce, cornstarch, sea salt and chopped cilantro and mix thoroughly. Fold in the breadcrumbs and add about half of the beaten egg to bind the mixture. Season with the salt and a couple of grinds of fresh black pepper. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes and up to one hour.
While the mixture is resting in the fridge make the glaze by melting the soy sauce and honey together over low heat. Set aside.
Moisten your hands with water to prevent sticking and form tablespoons of mixture into balls, placing them on a heavy baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove meatballs from oven and brush generously with honey soy mixture, return to oven for an additional 5 to 6 minutes until chicken is just cooked through. Makes about 20 meatballs.
Cook one cup basmati rice per directions. Place in a warmed bowl and season with salt, pepper and seasoned rice wine vinegar.
Two heads of Boston lettuce, leaves separated, washed and dried
1 red bell pepper, English cucumber, scallions, carrots, cut into fine julienne
A small bunch of washed and dried cilantro, separated into small sprigs
Sesame seeds for sprinkling
Fresh lime segments for garnish
4 Tbsp. bottled sweet Thai chili sauce
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
Whisk ingredients together and place in a small serving bowl
4 Tbsp. gochujang Korean chili paste
1 Tbsp. seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. water
Whisk ingredients together and place in a small serving bowl.
Arrange lettuce leaves on a large platter. Pile the meatballs in the center and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Arrange the julienne vegetables around the chicken and add the bowls of sauce to the platter. Garnish generously with sprigs of cilantro and fresh lime segments. Serve the seasoned rice on the side. For each wrap encourage guests to place one meatball and a spoonful of rice onto each lettuce leaf, add the vegetables, cilantro and sauces, form a wrap, and enjoy!