These Teriyaki Chicken Meatballs are soft and fluffy, and my kids love them! What’s the secret ingredient to make them so fluffy? It’s tofu!
Actually in Japan, we call this dish Tofu Hambagu (豆腐ハンバーグ) – “hambagu” as in Japanese Hamburger Steak. However, most of tofu hambagu are made with tofu AND ground meat (usually chicken, sometimes combination of beef & pork). To avoid misleading the vegetarian readers, I decided to simply call it chicken meatballs (with tofu, as the secret ingredient).
Why tofu? It’s because tofu makes the meatball texture very fluffy and soft. These teriyaki meatballs are especially great for all ages including toddlers and elders! If you increase the amount of tofu, it gets even fluffier and less calorie! My proportion for meat and tofu in this recipe is pretty easy to form into meatballs. As you increase the ratio for tofu, it might become slightly difficult to maintain the round shape.
And please note that the meat acts as binding agent here. As you knead the meat, it gets stickier and helps bind tofu and other ingredients very well.
Today I used colorful sweet bell peppers to add some color to these meatballs. You can add your choice of vegetables but don’t put too much in order to maintain the fluffiness.
Lastly, look at the delicious glaze on the meatballs! The sauce is everyone’s favorite, Teriyaki Sauce. If you cook Japanese food often, you noticed that we often use the same condiments – soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and sake (I didn’t use it for this recipe). It’s very common to season Japanese food with these condiments (just slightly different ratios).
I hope this video simplify the recipe. These Teriyaki Chicken Meatballs need just 30 minutes to prepare!
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- 14 oz (400 g) ground chicken
- 5 oz. (142 g) medium firm tofu (about ⅓ of 14-oz. package)
- 1 ½ sweet bell peppers (3 oz, 87 g) – I used 3 colors
- 1 green onion/scallion
- 1 inch ginger (about 1 tsp. grated ginger)
- 1 egg
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Oil for cooking
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. mirin
- 2 tsp. rice vinegar
- ½ tsp. potato/corn starch
- In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
- Wrap the tofu with paper towel and let it drain for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, remove sweet bell pepper seeds under running water and dry completely.
- Mince the sweet bell peppers, chop the green onion finely, and grate the ginger.
- In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, sweet bell peppers, and green onion. Break the drained tofu into small pieces.
- Add the egg and mix all together.
- Add the grated ginger, salt, and black pepper and combine well.
- Using two tablespoons or a cookie scoop, make a small ball.
- Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and drop the meatballs, keeping some distance between each ball. Cook in batches if necessary.
- When the bottom is nicely browned, flip them over and cover with the lid to cook until inside is no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low heat if browning too fast.
- When the meat is cooked through, add the first batch back into the pan (if there are any).
- Pour the sauce over and reduce the sauce until it thickens. Flip the meatballs to coat both sides with the sauce.