There’s always one friend in the group who is mean to the new boyfriends. And I’m proud to say that in my circle, it’s me.
I’m the friend equivalent of a dad cocking his shotgun as a guy comes to pick his daughter up for a date, but I’m not so subtle. Upon meeting one friend’s boyfriend, I stared him in the eyes and with a straight face said, “If you hurt my friend, I will chop your balls off.” Not a threat, just awaring him of consequences and it seemed to work for a while. But then the relationship soured and he moved out of the country. I like to think he’s afraid to return stateside because of my warning. If he knows what’s good for him then he’ll stay away.
This coward of a guy was from Singapore and the only thing I know about food from that area is “Chicken Rice.” A deceptively simple dish of poached chicken and rice, with a flurry of condiments. Better than it sounds, which is the exact opposite of the ex-boyfriend we shall not speak of. Since this dish got that jerk on my mind, I decided to take my original threat into the kitchen and make bite-sized chicken rice meatballs. No jerks were harmed in the making of this recipe.
Poaching chicken sounded too delicate for this application so ground chicken is the base of these meatballs. And any good meatball needs a little filler. Instead of breadcrumbs, a cup of cooked rice is the binder. While an Italian meatball is perfumed with onions, garlic and Italian seasoning, these little orbs keep the garlic and add ginger and scallions.
When I started to roll these meatballs things got really stick really quick. Making sure the ground chicken is really cold will help make sure the balls stick together and not to your fingers. Wetting your hands with some cool water will also stop the stick. I keep the balls small so they cook up quickly. Once you make a million tiny meatballs, pop the tray of raw meat in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm everything up. The chill keeps the chicken rice balls together when you cook them.
Then they’re seared off and finished in a chicken stock bath that not only keeps the meatballs moist(sorry if you hate the word) but also reduces some chicken stock for your dressing. Dressing or sauce, whatever you want to call it, meatballs can’t be naked. The reduced chicken stock is whisked with lime juice, zest, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and siracha to taste. I’m a spice wimp but you should start with a little and work your way up to your heat of choice.
Going along with the meatball rules: noodles are necessary. Cucumber goes with Chicken Rice so I noodled them for my meatballs. I’m not a zoodle person for the sake of cutting calories or faking to myself that this strip of a vegetable tastes like pasta. But in this case, the cucumber noodle does what regular pasta can’t. The cucumber is refreshing and crunchy and provides a great balance against the rice-studded chicken and tart and spicy sauce.
They take 5 seconds to make because you use a vegetable peeler and pay a little more attention than if you were just peeling carrots. If making cucumber noodles is too annoying then chuck them up and toss them with the sauce and meatballs. But the meatballs are pretty good twirled in the cucumber noodles. I also later found while picking at the leftovers that night, the cold meatballs wrapped in a noodle and dipped in sauce are pretty good too. If cold meatballs aren’t your jam then you could make little party bites by wrapping warm meatballs in noodles and securing the package with a toothpick. Either way, if you stab with a fork or impale with a toothpick, these ex-boyfriend inspired chicken rice meatballs deserve a little violence, as do their inspiration.
- 1 tablespoon of chopped ginger
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 lb of ground chicken
- 1 cup of cooked rice
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- Vegetable oil for frying the meatballs
- 2 cups chicken stock to finish cooking the meatballs
- 1 tablespoon lime zest
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- up to 1 tablespoon siracha
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons reserved chicken stock
- 4 hothouse cucumbers
- Heat a large saute pan over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
- Chop the ginger and garlic and saute in the pan for 2-3 minutes until fragrant and softened.
- Thinly slice the scallions and add them to a large bowl, along with the garlic, ginger and rest of the meatball ingredients, except for the chicken stock.
- Mix together the meatball mixture until the ingredients are fully incorporated into one another.
- Wet your hands with water and roll the meat mixture into bite-sized blobs. These should be one or two bite meatballs. I usually get 24 balls. The meat mixture will be sticky, don’t be scared.
- If the balls seems very soft when you are rolling them, then pop the tray in the freezer for 15 minutes before cooking them to keep them from falling apart when they are seared.
- In the same pan you cooked the garlic and ginger, heat two tabelsppons of vegetable oil over medium high heat.
- Brown the meatballs on each side and then set aside on a plate. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to brown the meatballs in batches so you don't crowd the pan. I needed to sear the meatballs in 2 batches.
- Once all of the meatballs are browned, return them to the pan and lower the heat to medium-low. Add enough chicken stock so the liquid comes halfway up the meatballs, for me this is about 2 cups. You don't want them completely submerged.
- Braise the meatballs in the stock for 10-12 minutes until they are fully cooked.
- The chicken stock will reduce while the meatballs are cooking, make sure you reserve 2 tablespoons of the reduced stock for the chili sauce.
- Chop garlic, and zest and juice your lime.
- Stir the rest of the sauce ingredients together and add the garlic, zest and juice. Start with a little siracha and taste the sauce to see if you'd like more.
- Gently run a vegetable peeler down one side of the cucumber to make a “noodle." This works best if you keep the cucumber on a flat surface.
- Keep making noodles on one side of the cucumber until you get down to the seeds.
- Turn the cucumber and continue making noodles and rotating, until all you're left with is a core of seeds.
- Toss the meatballs with the cucumber noodles and drizzle some of the sauce on top.