Last time I tried pork and prawn balls, it was a mess… After that, I talked myself to never try this dish again and stick to the Asian restaurant around the corner for my prawn and pork fix. Then, I saw Gordon Ramsay cooking them on his Ultimate Cookery Course and I sort of changed my mind. As usual, a very brief list of ingredients and a method which looked foul proof – definitely something worthwhile trying. In fact, it is so easy to do it has become one dishes I do over and over again. In less than 30min, I have the balls ready to be eaten. To make it even more convenient, once fried, the balls keep in the fridge for a few days. All you have to worry about is get the stock going and in less than 10min, you have your freshly cooked dinner ready. For added valued, almost not fat and no carbohydrates in sight…
Pork and prawn balls in aromatic broth (adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course)
For the balls
- 100g raw prawns, peeled, deveined and finely chopped until almost minced
- 250g minced pork
- 1½ tbsp finely chopped chives
- 1.5cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and diced
- Enough sunflower sun for pan frying the balls
- 2 big handfuls of spinach
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 spring onion, trimmed and finely sliced, to garnish
For the aromatic broth
- 1L stock, home-made or from stock cubes
- 1 lemon grass stalk
- 2 whole star anise
- 2 teaspoon oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoon soy sauce
- 2cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
Place the minced shrimps in a bowl with the pork, chives and ginger. Season with a good pinch of salt and pepper and mix until the ingredients are well combined and sticking together. Roll the mixture into small balls about the size of a golf ball. Transfer to a plate, cover and chill until needed.
Meanwhile, get started on the broth. Heat the stock in a saucepan, add the other ingredients and mix well. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and gently simmer for 10 minutes to infuse, then taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat and add a dash of oil. Fry the pork and prawn balls, turning frequently, for 6–7 minutes until golden brown all over. Transfer into the gently simmering pan of broth and leave to cook for 5 minutes until the balls are cooked through. Add the spinach and cook for 1 minute until just wilted.
Taste the dish and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve garnished with spring onions
And another cook off: pork and prawns balls in aromatic broth. It is a bit of a foreign taste to my Mediterranean roots, but still delicious enough to me go back to it over and over again. Nothing that I would cook for myself, though. Never having cooked them before, the broths seem too complex and the flavours seem to be quite hard to get in the right proportions.
But, this Hairy Dieter’s version seemed achievable. A lot of work, but still, within my possibilities… Halfway through the process, there was a lot of huffing, puffing and fiddling around. Indeed it soon become a full blown mess, which included the mixer to go on strike to never work again. To make matters worse, it wasn’t as delicious as one would expect after all process. Well, maybe I haven’t “followed the recipe to the letter”, as The Hairy Dieter’s strong recommend, but after all this effort, I was somehow expecting something a bit more elevated… It is very unlikely I will try it again.
Pork and prawns balls in vegetables and noodles aromatic broth (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)
For the broth
- 2 liters chicken stock
- 2 lemongrass stalks
- 4 chillies (2 cut across, 2 deseed and thinly sliced)
- 6 kaffir lime leaves, dried or fresh
- 2 long shallots, thinly sliced
- 50g fresh root ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthways
- 4 tablespoons of fresh lime juice (1 1/2 limes)
- 3 tablespoons of Thai fish sauce
- 2 medium carrots peeled and cut to thin ribbons with a vegetable peeler
- 1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 small yellow pepper, thinly sliced
- 150 chestnut mushrooms
- 150 mangetout
- 50g fine vermicelli rice noodles
- large handfull of fresh coriander
For the pork and shrimp balls
- 250g lean minced pork
- 100g cooked peeled prawns, thawed if frozen
- 1/2 long shallot peeled and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 chili, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoons of cornflour
- fine salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
Start with the broth, pour the stock in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer and add the lemongrass stalks. Split w of the chillies lengthways almost all the way through and pop them in the pan.
Add the lime leaves, half the sliced shallots and finally, all the ginger and garlic. Bring the broth to a low simmer and cook gently for 20min. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand for about 30min.
While waiting for the broth to cool down, start the balls. Put the minced pork and prawns in a large bowl. Add the chopped shallots, garlic, deseeded chilli, cornflour, salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper in food processor. Blend to make a tick, slightly textured purée. Add the coriander leaves and it another quick blitz until just combined. Take out the processor blade the roll the pork and prawn mixture into 20 small balls.
Strain the infused stock through a sieve into a clean pan. Stir in the remaining sliced shallot, lime juice and fish sauce. Stir in the remaining chillies, very finely chopped. Bring to a gentle simmer and add to the pork balls. Let it cook for 5 minutes, allowing the liquid to bubble gently. In the meanwhile, cut the carrots into large ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Deseed the peppers and slice them thinly; clean and slice the mushrooms. Trim the mangetout and cut them in half diagonally. Still the carrot strips, mushrooms, mange tout, peppers and noodles into the broth and let it simmer for 3-4min more, or until the pork balls are cooked through and the vegetables and noodles are just tender, stirring occasionally.
Ladle the broth into deep bowls and scatter the coriander on the top.
Comfort food for a bitterly cold day… For the this dish, I pulled recipes from 2 different books. The meatballs are a modified version of Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas‘ take. The tomato sauce is the famous tomatada by David Leite I use ever so often.
Spaghetti and meatballs in a tomato sauce with basil
Ingredients for the meatballs
- 2 yellow onions, chopped
- 500g ground beef and pork
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried persil
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- Salt and pepper freshly ground
- Olive oil to taste
- Flour as needed
Ingredients for the tomato sauce
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions cut in half lengthwise and sliced into thin half moons
- 2 springs fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 garlic gloves minced
- 1 kg very ripped tomatoes, seeded and chopped* (or a couple of canned tomato, preferably san marzano, chopped, juices reserved).
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of double concentrated tomato paste, to taste
- 1 small fresh medium red hot chilli pepper, such as Serrano, stemmed, seeded and chopped (it optional. Sometimes, I just add a few drops of piri piri sauce).
- Freshly grounded salt and black pepper to taste.
- Fresh basil
- Boiling water
- A little bit of olive oil
Heat the stove the 190 oC (=375 oF).
Place a large heavy base, non stick frying pan on a low heat with 2 dashes of olive oil. Add the sliced onions, a pinch of salt and pepper then sauté gently until soft and tender. When it is done add the minced garlic and let it fry for a 1 minute more. Set aside to cool.
In a bowl combine the meat with the herbs, the eggs and the caramelised onion. Once the mix has aggregated, roll the meatballs with your hands. Roll them in flour so all the surface is coated.
Place a large heavy base, non stick frying pan on a low heat with 2 dashes of olive oil. Gently brown the meatballs, about 5min, adding more olive oil if needed. Reserve the frying pan.
Place the meatballs in a baking tray coated with olive oil and put it in the stove for about 30min or until they feel solid.
In the meanwhile, start the tomato sauce. Use the frying where you browned the meatball. Add more oil if necessary, and heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the onions, parsley and bay leaf and cook until nicely golden, about 15min. Add the garlic and cook for 1 min more.
Turn the heat to medium low, stir in the tomatoes and their juices, the tomato paste and chilli pepper, if using. Bring to a simmer, cook, lid ajar, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, about 30min.
Once the tomato sauce is done and the meatballs are out of the stove, you will need to combine both. Just drop gently the meatball in the frying pan, making sure the surfaces are coated. Let it simmer gently for about 20min.
In the meanwhile, boil spaghetti. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. If cooking dry spaghetti, use a mimimum of 500ml of water for each 100g. of dry spaghetti. Once the water is boiling, you will need to add the spaghetti. Reduce the heat so that the water is on a slow boil. Let it cook as said in the package. When ready, drain and add some olive oil to avoid sticking.
On a plate, put the spaghetti and on top the meatballs and the tomato sauce. Add a basil leaf for decoration and extra flavor.
Another recipe with minimal verbiage. I happened to have all these ingredients in the fridge. A few google searches after, I found this baked stuffed zucchini on All Recipes. A few tweaks after, dinner was served.
Baked stuffed zucchini
- 4 large zucchini
- 2 firm tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp dried mint (fresh mint would have been better, but I had none left)
- 450g g minced meet (pork and beef)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 250g tomato sauce (I used tomatada, but passata or a lightly diluted tomato sauce could also work well)
- 1 spring chopped fresh rosemary
- 4 tbsp Grana Padano or Parmesan
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the zucchini in a shallow baking dish or roasting tin, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes or until tender – they should pierce easily with a fork.
Mix the eggs with the chopped plum tomatoes, mint, and pepper to season. Set aside.
Fry the minced meat over a medium heat until browned. Add the onion and garlic, cook for a further 5 minutes until the onion has softened. Stir in the tomato sauce, reserved zucchini pulp and rosemary. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10–15 minutes. Stir in the egg mixture and mix together.
5. Spoon the stuffing mixture into the zucchini boats and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake for 15–20 minutes until golden and crispy on top. Serve immediately.