Asian Meatballs in Yakiniku Sauce

Yakiniku (Meat Sauce… thanks for generalizing on that one, Japan) is a sweet and sour sauce with fruit juice and sesame seeds used on meat and is tastier than I just made that sound, I promise. So you make the meatballs and brown them, then simmer them in this sauce to finish cooking them and to thicken the sauce to more of a glaze, and then you serve the whole thing over rice and garnish with green onions and oh my god is it really good! PLUS, and here is the kicker and why I like meatballs- I ALWAYS make twice what I need and then freeze the other half (in this case I did the same with half the sauce) and then all I have to do is defrost, simmer, and dinner is le DONE on a school night when I’m dead tired. GEEN-US, mei oui?

I love meatballs a lot, actually, and heck, I even like making them too. I feel like a reflection in an infinity mirror… where you look in and see a million reflections coming to a point in the far distance. I am either the first reflection in this scenario, or the smallest… not sure how the physics work in this analogy honestly, but I am the most recent reflection of all the women, over all the years, who have stood at a counter doing this huge, hours long involved task for their families. There is Sara in ’84 (singing quietly to herself “Cause this is THRILLER, THRILLER night…” as she made her batch), Vi in ’73 (I can’t believe you voted for that asshole twice), Helen in ’56 (check yourself before you wreck yourself with that racism, Helen), Anna, in ’36 (“watch out for that Hitler, he’s a bad egg!”), Adina in ’17 (get a flu shot), and Martha in 1891 (opium’s a hell of a drug)… as well as all the others.

It’s a long winded way of unifying female history through meatballs… because I’m a writer.


Sara in ’84.               Image by novem a. wahyudi

Ingredients for Meatballs

2 lbs. ground pork
2 eggs
2/3 cup seasoned panko breadcrumbs
Generous fresh ground pepper
1” thumb sized fresh garlic, grated
4 garlic cloves, through a garlic press
Finely minced white part of 4 green onions
½ Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
(This recipe makes a lot- I froze ½ the meatballs and half the sauce for a future meal.)

Ingredients for Sauce
½ cup soy sauce (if using low sodium soy sauce you may need less water)
¼ cup water
1 Asian pear- grated w/ the juice (add the pulpy stuff to the sauce too. I’d never grated fruit before, but it’s easier than cheese. I used the smaller size than what I’d use for cheese on the grater)
4 green tops of green onions, finely diced
1.5 tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. sake
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
¼ cup Korean BBQ sauce w/ sesame seeds (Kinda a cheat, but I wanted a thicker consistency and more sweetness to the sauce so I added this)
3 garlic cloves, through garlic press

Form meatballs into… balls, roughly bouncy ball sized. Takes longer than you think. Will make one whole cookie sheet worth. Refrigerate for 1 hour- this helps them hold together when browning.

While meatballs are chilling, add all ingredients for sauce to a bowl and mix together, tasting to ensure flavor. Once mixed refrigerate for 1 hour while sauce flavors melds.

Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil to a pan; bring to a medium heat on stove. Brown meatballs in batches, without cooking all the way through. Remove browned meatballs to a plate. Once all meatballs are browned add what you’re cooking that day back to the pan (single layer, but touching is okay) and pour sauce over meatballs. Bring to simmer cover with lid, and stir periodically to coat meatballs in sauce. Remove lid for last few minutes to reduce sauce to thicker consistency. Watch the sauce and don’t let it get too dry.

Serve over rice and top w/ green onions (or cilantro) and sesame seeds.

Die of exhaustion from most complex meal ever.


2 thoughts on “Asian Meatballs in Yakiniku Sauce

  1. A lot of work, but a lot of love…hopefully your girls will want to learn and make meals full of love for their families from watching you

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