As I write this, Kramer is sitting next to me, wringing his hands and trying to decide if he should take the L train or the JMZ, because as soon as he was about to leave the apartment, my Google alerts for the L train let me know that there is currently no service into Manhattan from Brooklyn. Ah, yes, who doesn’t love a New York City morning commute? At least we’ve wised up to checking the MTA’s website most mornings, otherwise we’d be down in the pit with the rest of the human garbage, trying to shove our doughy, winterized bodies onto the next train before the person next to us can get a chance. It’s days like these when I miss being in China or Japan or Taiwan, where, in my experience, anyway, people line. up. for. the. subway. in. a. single. file. line. That’s my dream (or one of my dreams). In New York, people shove, squeeze, and push their way onto the train, even if there is no freaking room, even if the dude to their left has his backpack on and he simply refuses to take it off, even if, for some reason, there’s a guy riding the train for three stops with his bike, taking up precious space. Hey, pal, unless you’re a messenger and you’re headed into the Bronx, bike your way to wherever you need to go. The subway is for pedestrians. /endrant
Acting casual on The Bund.
Speaking of traveling abroad, I’ve got these super tasty Baked Sichuan-Ginger Meatballs for you today, as well as a few photos of our recent trip to Shanghai, where we ate Sichuan dumplings almost every day. One Culture Foods approached me recently, asking if I’d like to collaborate with them on a recipe using their New American Sauces. They picked out the Earthy Spicy Tingly sauce for me, and duh, of course I wanted to use it. It’s made with Sichuan peppercorns, cumin, fermented soybeans, garlic, and crushed chili flakes – right up my alley. You can buy it at any NYC Whole Foods location, or a number of places online. I was having a few friends over one night, so I went the appetizer route with these meatballs. This recipe is perhaps one the easiest things I’ve done in a while, as well as one of the most delicious. Kramer went wild for these balls (ha ha ha), saying multiple times how much he liked them. I added plenty of fresh ginger, extra cloves of garlic, and, my secret weapon: grated onion. I think grating the onion gives this dish an extra-special kick of flavor. Try it! The sweet, sticky marmalade and Sichuan glaze probably didn’t hurt, either. Our friends gobbled these up, but we did have a few leftover, so we put them on salads with some pickled vegetables the next day. If you’re not having people over, this is a great way to bang out your weekday lunch prep with just one recipe, because you’ll have 35 to 40 small meatballs when you’re done. Freeze whatever you don’t eat, and ta-da, you’ll always have something to nosh on.
Chill family photo.
What we really went to China for.
Yet another reason to love China. You can’t really tell, but I am possibly the happiest I’ve ever been in this photo.
Super adorable lai wong bao (egg custard buns).
What everyone feels like after a few days of being on vacation with me.
Let’s get this party started.
I’ve found that the best way to make meatballs is to mix all of the ingredients together first before you add the meat. This method allows you to evenly distribute all of the good stuff you’ve added to your balls! 😉
These suckers are ready to bake.
Top with your sweet and spicy glaze and you’re good to go.
I made these for some friends recently and they gobbled ’em up.
Make some extras to eat for lunch the next day!
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- ½ yellow onion, grated or finely minced
- 6 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
- 1 2-inch knob of ginger, grated or finely minced
- ½ cup plain breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup Earthy Spicy Tingly Sichuan Peppercorn and Cumin Sauce (found at Whole Foods – alternatively, use 2 tablespoons chili oil + 1 tablespoon miso paste + ½ teaspoon cumin)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 cup orange marmalade
- 3 tablespoons Earthy Spicy Tingly Sichuan Peppercorn and Cumin Sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- freshly sliced scallions, for garnish
- sesame seeds, for garnish
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together your eggs, grated onion, grated garlic, grated ginger, breadcrumbs, Earthy Spicy Tingly sauce, and salt. Add in the ground beef and mix with a wooden spoon or your hands until well combined. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray, if you have it. Roll each meatball into 2 tablespoon-sized balls and place on your baking sheets until you've used all of the meat. Bake for 15 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned.
- While the meatballs bake, make your sauce. In a small saucepan, whisk together your marmalade, Earthy Spicy Tingly sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil. Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring often, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside (if you want to make these for a party, you can cover and refrigerate the meatballs at this point until you are ready to brush them with the sauce).
- When your meatballs are ready, remove them from the oven. Turn the oven up to broil. Brush each meatball with a bit of your sauce, then return to the oven and broil for 1-2 minutes, until lightly caramelized (watch them so that they don't burn). Sprinkle with sliced scallions and sesame seeds and serve with toothpicks. These make great leftovers and will keep well, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days.