Mini Taiwanese Meatballs

  • Yield : 8 to 10 servings
  • Prep Time : 15m
  • Cook Time : 10m
  • Ready In : 25m
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  • 12 ounces ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 red chiles, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 large scallion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoshing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • Pinch sea salt
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 ounces large baby spinach leaves, Little Gem leaves, or small butter lettuce leaves
  • 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce, for serving
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Fresh mint leaves, for garnish


Step 1

Thoroughly mix together the beef, ginger, garlic, half of the chiles and the scallions in a medium bowl. Add the Shaoshing, soy sauce, cornstarch, sesame oil, sugar, salt and black pepper and mix into the meat mixture until well combined using your hands. Roll the meat into ping-pong-size balls, and then transfer to a plate. 

Step 2

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over medium-high heat until a bread cube or small piece of chile dropped into the oil turns golden brown in 10 to 15 seconds and floats to the surface, 350 degrees F. Deep-fry the meatballs using a strainer, tossing them in the oil gently, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and repeat with the remaining meatballs. 

Step 3

To serve, place the spinach leaves stem-side up on a serving platter. Place 2 meatballs on each leaf, and drizzle a little chili sauce on top. Garnish with a sprinkling of cilantro and mint leaves and the remaining chopped red chiles. Guests can pick up the meatballs wrapped in the spinach or use toothpicks to spear and enjoy. Serve immediately.

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