Southeast Asia flavors shine through in meatballs

The Culinary Institute of America

Though students at The Culinary Institute of America face a seemingly endless to-do list, central to their course work is recipe and menu development. At the CIA, food is life, and even the best-managed restaurant is nothing without flavorful, exciting, and innovative recipes.

A recent standout is this recipe for Hanoi Pork Meatballs with Hoisin-Peanut Dipping Sauce, which is ideal if you’re hosting friends and family.

Bursting with the flavors of Southeast Asia, like garlic, ginger and bright herbs, these meatballs are an easy make-ahead option that will stand out against the usual party favorites. The sweet hoisin-peanut dipping sauce will remind you of those other meatballs you may have simmered in your slow cooker, but with a little something special and unexpected.

If you love the flavors in these meatballs, why not put your own spin on the recipe? You can replace the pork with turkey for a leaner appetizer to balance out those beers. Or, if you want to serve a more substantial dinner, form the mixture into burger-sized patties and serve them on buns. You can top them with the dipping sauce, some more fresh herbs, and pickled onions for some zing.

This year’s big game is being held in Houston. And even though you might think of Houston as barbecue central, it’s actually known to have some of the best Vietnamese restaurants in the country — so this recipe will help your guests feel like they are right in the middle of the action.

Pork Meatballs with Hoisin-Peanut Sauce

Non-stick cooking spray, as needed

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon canola oil

5 cloves minced garlic

2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

3 minced scallions

2 teaspoons chopped parsley

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped Thai basil

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 teaspoon Sriracha

1/8 cup whole milk cottage cheese

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1 teaspoon lime zest

1 pound ground pork

Hoisin-Peanut Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Oil a rack for a sheet tray with non-stick cooking spray. Place rack in sheet tray and set aside.

In a medium-size saute pan, heat both oils over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add the garlic, ginger, and scallions.

Sweat until aromatic and soft (about 5 minutes). Remove from pan, and allow to cool.

In a mixing bowl, add and combine all remaining ingredients except for the ground pork and dipping sauce. Mix all of these ingredients together thoroughly until completely combined.

Add the ground pork and mix lightly until all the ingredients are lightly incorporated. Be careful not to over mix the meat, as it will result in tough meatballs.

Scoop or form mixture in 15 1 1/2-ounce balls and place them onto the oiled rack.

Cook the meatballs in the preheated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature has reached 155 degrees and the exterior is golden brown.

Serve meatballs hot, with toothpicks and a bowl of the Hoisin-Peanut Dipping Sauce to dip. Makes 15 meatballs.

Per 3 meatballs: 309 calories; 22 g fat (8 g saturated fat; 64 percent calories from fat); 9 g carbohydrates; 1 g sugar; 66 mg cholesterol; 527 mg sodium; 17 g protein; 1 g fiber.

Hoisin-Peanut Dipping Sauce

3/4 cup hoisin sauce

3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Serves 5.

Per serving: 144 calories; 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat; 39 percent calories from fat); 19 g carbohydrates; 12 g sugar; 1 mg cholesterol; 776 mg sodium; 4 g protein; 2 g fiber.