Recipe, photography and styling by Tanya Zouev.
I find inspiration for my food in all sorts of places and experiences, some likely, some a bit less so. I own a squillion cookbooks but find I rarely look at them after purchase (with the exception of Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio and Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem) unless I’m making something I’ve never cooked before and am really stuck. I love looking at food blogs and magazines, but due to my work schedule and family life I rarely find the time to indulge in this (as much as I’d like to). I seem to get around this somehow. I’m the kind of cook who has random ideas pop into their head frequently about what to make next and I don’t seem to be short on inspiration yet.
The idea for this particular recipe came at a 4th birthday party I was at about a year and a half ago with my son. In the midst of all the fairy bread and Doritos, the birthday girl’s mum brought out a plate of little meatballs that were really good. When I quizzed her as to what was in them, she said chicken, coriander and red curry paste. I was so inspired that I made this recipe up the next day. I also put together an accompanying simple yet flavoursome dipping sauce that goes perfectly with them. What you have here is a moreish meatball full of fresh Thai flavours that includes coriander, kaffir lime and galangal, and a little bit of spice to nibble alongside a cold glass of white wine or beer at your next cocktail party.
This meatball however has much more than just coriander, spices and red curry paste. As I’m a big advocate of making meat go a long way, I’ve created a meatball that is one-third vegetable. Aside from using less meat (which I encourage for both ethical and environmental reasons), there are lots of vegetables in there to make the meatball moist and very tasty. When I make these up for parties they get scoffed faster than you can say “that’s a spicy meat-a-ball”. My guests think that they’re hoeing into 100% meatballs when I’ve in fact snuck in a bunch of veg. I know that’s pretty sneaky, but if nobody is none the wiser then who cares? At least they’re eating something that is good for them.
Makes about 45 meatballs. Prep time 30 mins, cooking time 45 mins.
500 grams (1 pound) pork mince (don’t use lean meat as the meatballs will turn out too dry)
500 grams (1 pound) chicken mince
500 grams (1 pound) vegetables of your choice that have been grated finely through a food processor (I typically use one each medium red onion, zucchini, carrot and red capsicum)**
1 bunch coriander (stems and leaves), chopped finely
8 cloves garlic, minced finely
2 inch piece ginger, grated finely
1 inch piece galangal, grated very finely
3-4 small red chillies, chopped finely
2 kaffir lime leaves, very finely sliced
½ cup ground cashews
3 tablespoons red curry paste (I used Mae Ploy)
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt to taste (but check first if your curry paste contains salt, if so, leave out)
coconut or macadamia oil spray
** if using a Thermomix measure out your roughly chopped vegetables, add the ginger, galangal, coriander and garlic and chop speed 5 for 10 seconds. Scrape down bowl and chop speed 5 for another 10 seconds.
The dipping sauce
Juice from 2 limes
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1 tablespoon coriander leaves, chopped finely
1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
1 small red chilli, stem and seeds removed, chopped finely
1/2 small cucumber, diced finely (optional)
Preheat oven to 200˚C (400˚F).
1. Combine the chicken and pork mince, add the egg, ground cashews, curry paste, coconut flour and set aside.
2. Combine all the grated vegetables and ginger, galangal, chilli, kaffir lime leaf and add to the bowl with the meat.
3. Mix thoroughly and roll into 2 inch diameter balls (they will shrink in size during cooking).
4. Spray thoroughly with coconut or macadamia oil and bake for 45 minutes turning meatballs over half way through cooking time.
(the dipping sauce)
1. Combine all ingredients and let sit for 10 minutes for the flavours to develop.
Photography & styling notes:
I tend to only serve these meatballs at parties so a cocktail atmosphere was in order for this shoot. I’ve chosen dark surfaces and props including a black platter by Mud Australia. The rest of the props including the vintage cocktail skewers are random purchases from local op shops that I keep on my studio prop shelf. The background is a piece of salvaged timber from a council clean-up and the only light used is late afternoon window light. The camera used was a Canon 5D Mark 3 with a 24-70mm zoom and a 100mm macro lens.