Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce チキンミートボール甘酢和え

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  • So juicy, tender, and easy to make, this delicious Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce makes a terrific weeknight meal for the whole family. Would you also serve these as an appetizer at a party? I say you should!

    A white dish containing Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce.

    Every cuisine has its own version of meatballs. What type of meatball recipe did you grow up with?  For me, it was this Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce that my mom often put in my bento (lunch box). I especially loved the sweet and sour sauce called Amazu (甘酢) – a Chinese-style sauce adapted to Japanese tastes.

    Cooking this chicken meatball recipe always brings back fond images of my mom in the kitchen.  It really brings me joy to make it now for my children to pass on this tradition.

    A white dish containing Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce.

    Here Are 3 Reasons Why You Want to Make These Chicken Meatballs Tonight

    1. A Total Crowd Pleaser

    Smothered in flavorful sauce, these juicy chicken meatballs are so good that the pickiest eater in the house would give the recipe a big thumbs-up. You can serve the meatballs with steamed rice or noodles, or even as appetizer at a party. Just be ready to share the recipe when someone asks for it. 🙂

    2. Easy-to-find Ingredients

    You don’t need fancy Japanese ingredients to make this recipe, but I hope you already have soy sauce (and rice vinegar, as regular white vinegar is much stronger than rice vinegar).

    3. Freezer-Friendly

    Too busy to cook every day? Make these meatballs in a large batch and freeze the leftover for your kids’ lunch, your bring-to-work lunch, or emergency food.

    A white dish containing Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce.

    5 Tips for Making the Best Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce

    1. Knead the meat mixture until pale in color

    You might have seen this tip in my gyoza or Tsukune (Japanese meatball) recipes, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to knead the mixture well.  If you don’t want to touch the raw meat mixture, get this plastic gloves.  I use them to make kimchi and knead meat mixture like this.

    2. Utilize cookie dough scoop

    I’m not much of a baker who makes cookies all year round, yet I utilize my cookie dough scoop as much as those cookie making bakers! Why? Because it is great to make uniformly-size meatballs, as well as keeping your hands clean.

    3. Refrigerate meatballs

    After shaping the meatballs, let them rest in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes. Your warm hands melt the fat (umami) of the mixture, so this helps to re-solidify the meatballs before cooking.

    4. Boil the meatballs

    In the classic Chinese recipe, the meatballs are usually deep fried (and they are delicious!). However, many of you prefer healthier, easier, and no deep-frying recipes so I tried boiling meatballs. It may sound unnecessary, but boiling yields a fantastic texture if you choose not to deep-fry.

    I learned that all the delicious flavors that might leak into water eventually get absorbed back into the meatballs when we cook them without water.  Inside the meatballs stay juicy and tender, and I am happy to find a good alternative to deep frying method.

    5. Make extra sauce

    As you may already know Japanese eat bento at room temperature at school. I remember all the savory sauce on the main dish tasted better when it has more sauce/seasoning on it, especially when you eat plain cold rice.

    In this recipe, you may find there is slightly more sauce than you may need. That’s because I think you’re going to enjoy the extra saucy meatballs with your rice or noodles! You can freeze the leftover too if you like.

    A white dish containing Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce.

    Sake Pairing for Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce

    Takara Sakes are renowned for their premium quality and delicious sake, and especially when paired with food.  To go with the tangy and flavorful chicken meatballs, we selected the mouthwatering Sho Chiku Bai SHO Junmai Organic.

    It is a dry sake so it contrasted the sweetness of the sauce very well, and the flavor is different from regular sakes you might have tried.  It is a full-bodied sake with hints of oatmeal, spice, mushroom, and bread so it goes very well with savory dishes.  The texture of the sake is very creamy and cuts right through the chicken grease so you can eat more.  This sake is recommended to be served warm but chilled also works.

    Other dishes to try with Sho Chiku Bai SHO Junmai Organic include steak, grilled mushrooms, or truffle fries.

    A white dish containing Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce.

    Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here. If you are not sure what’s the difference between sake and mirin, click here.

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    4.23 from 9 votes
    A white dish containing Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce.
    Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce
    Prep Time
    30 mins
    Cook Time
    15 mins
    Total Time
    45 mins
     

    So juicy, tender, and easy to make, this delicious Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce is a perfect weeknight meal for busy home cooks!

    Course: Main Course
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: meatball
    Servings: 20 meatballs
    Author: Nami
    Ingredients
    • 1 lb ground chicken (454 g)
    • ½ onion
    • 1 large egg
    • 3 Tbsp panko
    • 1 Tbsp potato/corn starch
    • 1 Tbsp sake
    • ½ tsp kosher salt
    • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • Water (for steaming)
    Sweet and Sour Sauce (Make 1 cup)
    Instructions
    1. Gather all the ingredients.
      Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce Ingredients
    To Make Sauce
    1. In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine 6 Tbsp ketchup, 4 Tbsp mirin, 4 Tbsp soy sauce, 2Tbsp rice vinegar, 2 Tbsp sugar, 1 Tbsp sake, and 1 tsp potato starch and whisk well.

      Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce 1
    To Make Meatballs
    1. Mince the onion into fine pieces.
      Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce 2
    2. In a bowl, combine ground chicken, minced onion, 1 large egg, 3 Tbsp panko, 1 Tbsp potato/corn starch, 1 Tbsp sake, ½ tsp kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Knead the mixture well with your hand until the mixture is pale in color and very sticky.
      Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce 3
    3. Apply a small amount of cooking oil to your hands and make a ping-pong ball size shape with the mixture. If you have a cookie scooper, it helps to make equal size balls.
      Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce 4
    4. Once you make a ball, place it on a tray or plate lined with a sheet of parchment paper. Once you finish shaping, cover the tray/plate with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 15 minutes so the melted fat on meatballs will solidify.

      Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce 5
    5. Put ½ inch (roughly 1 cm) water in a large frying pan and bring it to boil. Carefully place the meatballs in the water.
      Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce 6
    6. Cover and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove the lid and let the water evaporate while you continue cooking the meatballs on medium high heat, turning the meatballs once in a while.

      Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce 7
    7. As water evaporates, the meatballs will turn brown. If the frying pan gets a burnt spot, wipe off with paper towel.

      Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce 8
    8. Add the sweet and sour sauce and coat the meatballs well with the sauce. Turn off the heat and serve.
      Chicken Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce 9
    Recipe Notes

    Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.

     

    Choice of Ground Meat: You can make this recipe with ground beef, pork, or turkey. Each type of meat yields different texture, and we like ground chicken best, then pork. 

     

    Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

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  • Just One Cookbook: Essential Japanese Recipes

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