baked meatballs korean barbecue style
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Korean barbecue-style beef meatballs, with spring onions, ginger and garlic plus a secret old-school meatball ingredient: crushed Ritz crackers.
I thought they were joking: Ritz crackers? in meatballs? Korean style too? First of all, in my mind Ritz crackers were out there with Mini Cheddars and Penguin Bars in the land of kids’ playgrounds. Also the idea of putting crackers into your main course was only a little less laughable than a crisp sandwich.
As might have been expected it turns out to be a thing, mainly in America: the stuff of Momma’s cooking and good ole’ nineteen-fifties (not necessarily at the same time). Meatloaf is only tasty when you add crushed Ritz crackers to it instead of boring and tiresome breadcrumbs. Who makes their own breadcrumbs anyway and the shop-bought ones are orange and hideous. Ritz crackers however are always there in the cupboard, the familiar red packet that invariably, annoyingly contains just a single cracker left by whoever didn’t want to own up to having eaten the WHOLE box.
I make my own breadcrumbs or source the superior pankos so with a snob’s fascination for junk food I fell upon the idea of Ritz crackers. So much so I have to admit I have not tried to make the Korean barbecue meatballs with ordinary breadcrumbs to test the Ritz factor, because I adore the original version so much and reach for the Ritz every time I make them.
Disappointingly, they aren’t the key to the fantastic flavour: the combo of soy sauce, ginger, onions and a hint of chilli is. I am however so excited about using Ritz crackers, they for ever remain the ‘Ritz meatballs’ in my house.
I’ve replicated the NY Times Cooking Kay Chun’s recipe ignoring the low-sodium advice (you want them salty - sorry) and upping the heat with ginger and gochujang paste. I also mixed some extra soy sauce with apricot jam to brush on for the last few minutes of baking, courtesy of invaluable comments underneath the recipe and the effect exceeded expectations. Enough said that the amount below which should feed four is usually scoffed between the two of us, only occasionally leaving a meatball or two for the next day’s lunch – incidentally, they are DIVINE cold.
baked meatballs korean barbecue styleServings: 2-4Time: 40 minutes
- 450g (1 pound) minced beef
- 2 tbsp. light soy sauce
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 12 (½ cup) Ritz crackers, crushed into crumbs
- 2cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tsp gochujang or toban djan paste
- 6 spring onions (½ cup), finely chopped
- For the glaze:
- 2 tbsp. apricot or plum jam
- 2 tbsp. soy sauce
1. Place the beef mince in a large bowl, add the soy sauce, garlic, salt, pepper, Ritz crackers, ginger, chilli paste and almost all spring onions reserving some green bits for garnish. Mix with your hands until combined.
2. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7 with a rack positioned in the upper half. Lightly grease a baking tray.
3. Shape 12 meatballs the size of a golf ball and arrange on the baking tray.
4. Bake for 15 minutes. In the meantime stir together the jam and soy sauce.
5. Remove the tray with meatballs from the oven and brush each with the glaze. Return to the oven for 5 minutes.
6. Serve over noodles or rice, with stir fried green vegetables and sprinkled with the reserved spring onions and sesame seeds (optional).