I have a Sweet and Sour Pork recipe that is tasty, but it’s not all that healthy — the pork (or chicken) is battered and deep-fried and the sauce is very sweet, making it something I made only as an occasional treat. So I was thrilled when I discovered a recipe that gives those great sweet and sour flavors but is much lighter than my more traditional recipe. I discovered this recipe in a little Chinese Favorites cooking magazine, and it certainly has become one of our favorites. Sometimes I use a Szechuan stir fry sauce to heat things up a bit.
Every once in a while, though, instead of having the more Sweet and Sour Pork (or Chicken), we like having Sweet and Sour Meatballs as a twist. Sweet and Sour Meatballs are not traditional Chinese fare, but they are yummy! Not only do they make a tasty main, they also make a lovely appetizer or snack for a crowd. As a matter of fact, that’s why I made us some a few weeks ago — hubby was remembering, fondly, the sweet and sour meatballs a family friend has traditionally supplied at Christmas-time, but she didn’t this past year, and we got to having a hankering for them.
If you don’t have stir fry sauce on hand, or if you just prefer to make your own, it’s easy: Stir a tablespoon or so of cornstarch into 1/3 to 1/2 cup chicken, beef, or vegetable broth. Add a tablespoon or two of soy sauce (I use reduced sodium soy sauce), and season to taste with a bit of garlic and ginger. If you want the sauce to be a bit sweet, add in a spoonful of brown or white sugar or artificial sweetener — or even a spoonful of corn syrup. If you want the sauce to have a bit of heat, add a bit of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil (I always just add it straight to my stir fry pan) and boil, stirring constantly, until it reaches desired thickness.
However you make it — you’ll want it to be cloudy with a chance of meatballs! 😉 (Go on, take 1 minute and 41 seconds from your life and watch — it’s cute. 😉 )
Sweet and Sour Meatballs (Serves 4 as a main)
- 1 pound extra-lean (93/7) ground beef or ground turkey (NOTE: I’ve not used ground turkey, but I think it would work)
- 1 egg
- Tablespoon or so of soy sauce (I use reduced-sodium)
- Minced garlic or garlic powder to taste (equivalent of a couple of garlic cloves)
- Plain cracker or dry bread crumbs, as needed
- Minced or ground ginger to taste
- 1 can (8 ounces) pineapple chunks in juice, UNDRAINED
- Oil as needed (I prefer sesame oil, but canola or olive oil will work, also)
- 2 medium carrots, scraped and cut into thin slices
- 1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1″ or so pieces
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup stir fry sauce
- 1 to 2 tablespoons vinegar (I like rice vinegar, but white or apple cider vinegar will work, also)
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix together egg, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and bread crumbs (start with about 1/3 to 1/2 cup). Stir in ground meat and mix together gently. Add in more cracker crumbs, if needed, and/or more seasonings.
- Shape into meatballs of desired size and place in a lightly oiled pan. Bake at 350F/375F until browned and cooked through (30 to 45 minutes).
- Drain pineapple, reserving 2 tablespoons of juice. Mix together stir fry sauce, 2 tablespoons of pineapple juice from the can of pineapple, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinegar.
- Heat a drizzle of oil in a medium (10″) to large (12″) non-stick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Stir fry carrot and bell pepper until crisp-tender, about 4 or 5 minutes. Add in pineapple.
- Add in stir fry sauce mixture. Bring to a boil and boil, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes. Either gently stir meatballs into sauce in skillet OR pour sauce and vegetables over meatballs in a serving dish.
- Serve with rice.
- Refrigerate leftovers.
To make as an appetizer for a crowd: Make as above, except use 2 pounds of meat and double the amount of ingredients for the liquid portion of the sauce. Leave the amount of vegetables and pineapple the same, although if you’re serving a pineapple-loving crowd, you might want to double the amount of pineapple, as well.