Spicy Thai Chicken Balls

Great for pot lucks, parties, and appetizers served with sweet and spicy Thai dipping sauce.

Unlike the majority of Thai chicken ball recipes in the States, authentic Thai chicken balls do not include breadcrumbs. Growing up, I have not seen Thais add breadcrumbs to their chicken balls. If you prefer using breadcrumbs, please do so. It’s a wonderful way to make an East meets West recipe. For this recipe, I use rice flour with fresh herbs and spices. I made these into chicken sliders this past summer for a friend’s burger throw down. At the end of the night, I was pleasantly surprised to see all the sliders disappear.

Why refrigerate the chicken ball mixture? For the salt to have time to tenderize the chicken. Refrigeration will also allow time for herbs and spices to penetrate.

Grill or bake? Since it’s the middle of winter and single digit outside, using the outdoor grill will be challenging. If you are fortunate enough to have an indoor grill, cook each side for about 6-7 minutes. If you are in a similar boat as I am, fear not and throw them in the oven. Bake until fully cooked and finish under broiler on high heat.

Not just a chicken ball mixture. You can turn these into patties for burgers. Chicken kabobs? Why not? They are delicious in a pita with lettuce, shredded carrots and cucumbers. The chicken balls are also heavenly in noodle soups. Another easy meal = lettuce wrap.

I hope I’ve made you hungry enough to try this recipe. Get cooking!

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chickenballs-2

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Portobello Pizza with Spicy Italian Sausage, Roasted Garlic and Tomatoes

Tis the season for muffin tops, tight pants and our on-going battle of the bulge. The last three months of the year make me cringe. My love affair with food is always one sided with me in the negative. I crave pizza! What healthy concoction can I whip up that will satisfy the taste buds as well as keep our line of latitude in check? It will need to be palatable enough to entertain my vegetarian foodies (minus the meat of course). And since it’s the holidays, it’s got to be a sufficient amount to feed a small army of friends. Instead of dough, use portobello mushroom as the base. No tomato sauce, no problem. Substitute sauce for roasted garlic and tomatoes. The taste of canned tomato sauce pales in comparison to the aroma and flavors of fresh roasted garlic and tomatoes. What’s left to complete the pizza are more toppings (meat or vegetables), a sprinkle of cheese along with basil and parsley.

To remove or not remove portobello gills? If the recipe is for stuffed mushrooms, gills are removed to make ample room for stuffing. More often, gills are removed because the liquid emitted, when cooked, will stain the other ingredients. For instance, lovely white goat cheese will look like it’s been dragged through mud. Others say the gills taste a little bitter, but I actually like gills. The presence of gills can make a nice reservoir for whatever flavorful baste you’re using.

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Takoyaki (Japanese Octopus Balls)

Takoyaki

The first time I tried takoyaki was from a street food stall in Japan several years ago. I remember while approaching the food vendor, my initial thoughts were, other than its smaller size, these look like ebleskiver (small, round Danish pancakes about 2 inches in diameter). As for appearances, that’s where the similarities end. Instead of tasting a sweet, fluffy, pancake texture, takoyaki is less dense, crispier on the outside, and has a soft chewy center.

Known mainly as octopus balls outside of Japan, takoyaki is a savory, grilled, Japanese dumpling. “Tako” means octopus, and “yaki” is a term translating to food that’s grilled, broiled or fried. This tasty snack started as street food in the early 1930’s in Osaka, located in the Kansai region of Japan. Its popularity has expanded into most restaurants, food courts, grocery markets, and 24-hour stores. The shell of a takoyaki mainly consists of eggs, flour, and dashi broth. The inside traditionally contains a small piece of octopus sprinkled with scallions, beni shoga (red pickled ginger), tenkasu (tempura scraps), and sakura ebi (ground dried shrimp).

In Japan, it’s a communal experience. If people aren’t buying these delectables, they’re cooking them at home. Takoyaki at home involves friends and family gathered around a table cooking and eating together. Everyone pitches in from making the batter to adding the ingredients for the fillings. There are frozen takoyaki available in Asian markets, but it’s always best eaten fresh and hot – and more fun with friends and family.

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Takoyaki

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Shrimp Pesto Pasta

Shrimp pesto pasta is a favorite recipe of mine this summer. It’s quick, easy and best of all it’s full of summer flavor. For this recipe, I used my own spicy Asian pesto (click here for recipe). The combination of Thai basil, cilantro, lime and chili peppers give the pesto a nice bite. I think the spicy pesto pairs very well with seafood.

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Shrimp Pesto Pasta

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Garlic Lovers’ Pesto

For me, store bought pesto can’t compare to homemade pesto with fresh herbs, roasted nuts and grated cheese. It can be easily made within 10-15 minuets. Pasta with pesto and fresh tomatoes is always fast and convenient on nights when you’re short on time. Use it as a spread on bread and sandwiches!

Garlic. Since this is a garlic lovers’ pesto, this recipe is a little spicy. If you want to tone down the garlicky flavor, use only half a head of garlic or cook the pesto for a few minutes. This will help to soften the garlicky flavor.

Pecorino Romano cheese. This salty Italian cheese is made from sheep’s milk and has a little bite to it which I love. I think it pairs well with Parmesan’s smooth creamy texture.

Storing pesto. In a glass jar or air-tight plastic container, pesto can last up to a week in the refrigerator. Before placing pesto in the refrigerator, make sure olive oil has risen to the top layer. This will help act as a barrier and prolong the pesto’s life. It can also be frozen and last up to a year; however, the pesto recipe I make usually doesn’t last very long – it’s devoured within a week.

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Garlic Lovers' Pesto

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Guacamole with cucumber and Thai chili peppers

I find guacamole almost as versatile as salsa. It’s mainly used as a dip, topping, or a substitute for condiments such as ketchup or mayonnaise. In additional to using guacamole in Mexican recipes, it’s also delicious on top of grilled bread, hamburgers, or in sandwiches.

My guacamole has cucumbers for an extra crunch and Thai chili peppers for spiciness. It’s also chunkier than the traditional guacamole because I like to see nice diced pieces of avocado. If you prefer a smoother texture, mash the avocado with using a fork or a potato masher.

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guacamole with cucumber and Thai peppers
Guacamole served in Tostitos Scoops

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