My all time favourite author is Lily Brett. She is an Australian author based in New York who writes both fiction and non fiction – the non fiction being autobiographical. Once you have read some of the non fiction, you can see how it bleeds in to her fiction work and her latest novel, Lola Bensky
, draws on Lily Brett’s experiences as a music journalist.
The books are not all sunshine and light. The main character in the book, Too Many Men: A Novel, is the daughter of an Auschwitz survivor (as is Brett) and the story looks in part at the impact this has on her. However, even with this topic (or perhaps because of it) there is still humour and warmth in the book and I love the way Lily Brett develops her characters. The characters have great depth and authenticity. At the end of the book I feel like I have not only gotten to know the characters but have shared important events in their lives both joyful and sad.
My favourite book of Lily Brett’s is You Gotta Have Balls: A Novel, which builds on the characters from Too Many Men. I won’t give the story away except to say that meatballs feature in the story and it is a fabulous read, especially if you like stories that include lively octogenarians. I do wonder if this book subconsciously led to my current obsession with meatballs. I did get cravings for them when I read the book. I think lamb meatballs are my current favourite but I have ventured in to unknown territory with this recipe for chia seed pork meatballs with a ginger soy sauce. Unknown territory because I rarely eat pork and much less cook pork unless it is in sausage form and I have never before cooked with tamari or chia seeds.
Meatball recipes that work for just one person can be tricky to find. Often recipes are for four serves and call for one egg as a binding agent. I find the idea of trying to get a quarter of an egg too annoying and usually just move on to the next recipe. I was intrigued to see this recipe that uses chia seeds as the binding agent rather than egg. I have since discovered that the downside is that chia seeds are not the cheapest ingredient on the block. Chia seeds are a dreaded super food (I really hate that term) so if you eat these meatballs you can feel as if you are doing super good to your body.
I am going to give the chia seeds a go as an egg alternative in some of the other meatball dishes I have previously rejected. There is information here on how much to use to substitute for one egg and it is easy to reduce the amount to make a quarter of an egg. I’ll let you know how I go.
Tamari sauce is sort of a type of soy sauce. The recipe calls for low sodium tamari but the selection at the Asian grocer I went to didn’t extend to anything other than plain tamari. More information on tamari is available here.
But getting back to the recipe… To make it for one person I used the following ingredients which makes about 6-7 meatballs:
For the meatballs:
- 130g minced pork
- 1 tsp of minced garlic (equal to 1 clove)
- ½ tsp of minced ginger
- ¼ of an onion, chopped finely
- 1 tbs of coriander (cilantro), chopped finely
- ½ tbs of tamari (I couldn’t find a low sodium version)
For the glaze:
- 1 tbs of tamari
- ¼ tsp of minced ginger
- ¼ tsp of rice vinegar (I have no idea if mine is unseasoned)
- 1 tsp of honey
- ¼ tsp of Sriracha sauce
This came to about 375 calories. Preparation time is about 10 minutes depending on how fast you chop that coriander (cilantro). Then there is twenty minutes where the meatballs gel with the chia seeds and finally about 20 minutes cooking time – see my comments below on cooking time and the result. The 20 minutes cooking time I have given here is 15 minutes in the oven and then about 5 minutes to get them out of the oven and glazed in the sauce. So all up about 50 minutes from start to finish.
The first time I made this, the meatballs were just delicious but the glaze was a bit sweet. The second time I obviously changed something and the meatballs came out a bit dry but the glaze was better – not quite as sweet. The second time I made these, I wasn’t feeling 100% and didn’t think about adjusting the cooking time so I followed the recipe exactly the second time and cooked them for 20 minutes. The first time I made these I cut the oven time down to 15 minutes as it is a smaller serve and they were more moist. So it was probably the cooking time but it could be something as simple as mixing them better the first time or making the meatballs a slightly different size.
I have no idea what changed the sweetness of the glaze. I may have put in slightly less honey or maybe a less sweet honey?
I served my meatballs on rice and the glaze made a lovely sauce but they would also go well with couscous or even as a fusion wrap with some julienne veggies.
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