The Honey and I make time every week for date night; one night a week carved out for just the two of us to explore new local restaurants. The tradition started when I first moved to the South and has become our weekly ritual – even when things get busy or stressful with work, it’s our night to decompress and spend quality time together. We’ve discovered some gems along the way, and keep a running list of new places to try.
One of the restaurants that has been on the list for months is a little – and highly elusive – Thai restaurant in the town just next to ours, that was recommended to us shortly after we moved in. On our first attempt we discovered that they only serve lunch. The next time we got rained out. Then over-an-hour-waited out. This week we tried for a lunch date, on Monday, when it turns out they are closed. The stars just haven’t aligned.
Instead, I came home and whipped up these scrumptious Thai-spiced chicken meatballs; my way of making up for our latest strike-out. But don’t think these flavor-packed nibbles are some mere consolation prize. Packed with fresh herbs and spices and dipped in a bold roasted red pepper curry sauce, these Thai-inspired meatballs are full of flavor and won’t last long as either a tasty appetizer or easy dinner.
For the Meatballs
- 1/4 cup panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs)
- 1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, finely minced
- 1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely minced
- 1 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, finely minced
- 2 tsp fresh lemongrass, finely minced
- 2 tsp fresh garlic, finely minced
- 2 tsp fresh ginger, finely minced
- 1-2 serrano or jalapeno chiles (choose according to your spice comfort level), minced
- zest of one lime
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
- 1 lb ground chicken
For the Red Pepper Curry Sauce
- 1 cup roasted red peppers
- 1 tbsp hot red curry paste
- 2-3 tbsp unsweetened coconut milk
- kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, mix together all of the ingredients – with the exception of the chicken – until well combined. Gently fold the spice mixture into the chicken until evenly distributed. Form into 1-1/2-inch meatballs (about 18-20 total) and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the meatballs are golden brown and cooked through.
- Meanwhile, make the Red Pepper Curry Sauce. In a food-processor, blend together the peppers and the curry paste. With the food-processor on, slowly add the coconut milk, a tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is smooth and at your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve the meatballs warm, with the sauce.
You can generally find jars or tubes of fresh chopped garlic, ginger and lemongrass in the produce section of most grocery stores near the fresh herbs and spices.