November 1, 2008

Tsukune - Pork Balls on sticks

Pork Balls


I got the inspiration for this recipe by one of my favourite Japanese anime shows, Samurai Champloo, as the 3 main characters are always on the search for food and they seem to eat food on sticks a lot.

So a quick search on Google resulted in Tsukune. I have adapted a recipe I found to add more flavour, but the basic method for making them is the same. They are cooked in two stages but it really isn't that complicated.

I think these would be great on the BBQ as you can prepare and cook them up to step 5 and then finish them over the hot coals.

The original recipe bastes the pork balls with Yakitori sauce but that calls for 1 Tablespoon of Mirin and 5 Tablespoons of Sake, both of which I didn't have as they're quite expensive and I wouldn't be able to use them up during our time in SF. So I substituted the Mirin and Sake with Hoisin Sauce to invent my own sauce!

  • Makes: 12 Pork Balls
  • Cooking Method: grill/broiler or BBQ


For the Pork Balls:

  • 300g/11oz minced/ground pork (or you can use chicken or turkey)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp corn flour/starch
  • 6tbsp dried breadcrumbs (I used panko)
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, grated (optional)
  • The juice from 1 inch piece fresh grated ginger root


For "Poor Mandy's Yakitori Sauce"

  • 5 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch blended with 5ml/1 teaspoon water
  • 2 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce

Directions for the Sauce:

  1. In a small pan, mix all the ingredients for the "yakitori sauce", except for the cornstarch liquid. Bring to a gentle boil then reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes or until the sauce has slightly reduced. Add the cornstarch liquid and stir until the sauce is thick.

Directions for the Pork Balls:

  1. Soak 4 bamboo skewers in water for a few hours.
  2. Put all the ingredients the pork balls in a medium bowl and mix until well combined. (You can use a food processor if you have it).
  3. Wet your hands and scoop about a tablespoonful of the mixture into your palm and shape it into a small ball about the size of a golf ball. Make all 12 balls.
  4. Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil. Add the pork balls and boil for about 7 minutes or until the colour of the meat changes and the balls float to the surface.
  5. Remove the balls from the pan and drain well on kitchen paper.
  6. Toss the pork balls in a little bit of oil - this will help them brown.
  7. Thread 3 balls on each skewer and cook under a medium grill/broiler or on a barbecue, keeping the skewer hands away from the fire. Turn them every few minutes until they are evenly browned.
  8. Brush with sauce and return to the heat.
  9. Repeat the brushing process twice, turning the balls to coat evenly so that the sauce caramelises.

NO BAMBOO STICKS? Don't worry, you can just put your balls on a baking sheet and cook under the grill, turning them often and basting with the sauce.

I served the Pork Balls with stir-fried spaghetti with mixed vegetables. My Dad often uses spaghetti/pasta instead of noodles and I think it makes a nice alternative/substitute:

Blanch some broccoli and drain. Saute 1/2 onion and some sliced mushrooms in a large pan. Add thinly sliced carrots and cook for a couple of minutes then add the broccoli. Add enough cooked spaghetti for 2 people and stir-fry for a few minutes. Add about 4 tablespoons of oyster sauce and make sure everything is nicely coated.


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