Asian Beef Snacks

Japanese-inspired meatballs

MissFoodFairy's Japanese-inspired meatballs

When we were at the Melbourne Good Food & Wine Show a couple of weeks ago, my husband bought some Japanese sake. Sakenet import traditional sake from Japan with cost price savings to us.

The sake my husband bought has a slightly sweet taste but warms you up as you drink it – it’s delicious! This sake is purely for drinking, not for cooking with. All I could think about was recipe ideas and how to match the sake with whatever I cooked up. What should I cook up? So many ideas – pork belly with five spice, sushi or sashimi, yakitori skewers or steamed fish with miso – but we didn’t have what I wanted in the fridge or freezer, and I couldn’t be bothered heading to the shops either, so I had to think what I had available already.

I then remembered My Asian Grandmothers cookbook, there was bound to be some inspiration in there! And there was – Japanese-style hamburgers. Sounds perfect! I think I’ll make meatballs instead – as I just love meatballs! And these meatballs were just amazing – full of flavour with a sticky, sweet sauce and moist on the inside! The whole family will be asking you to make these again and again!

I’ve never made meatballs with tofu before but it worked. They were very moist but held their shape perfectly. The sauce was sweet and sticky and these meatballs complimented the sake perfectly. You don’t need to have sake to enjoy these meatballs as they were super tasty without sake too. We had leftovers which we enjoyed the next day with some pita bread, kimchi and pickled radish – delish!

Mom's Kimchi

In case you’re not familiar with Kimchi, this is a traditional fermented Korean side dish using vegetables and spices. Originally made with cabbage and beef stock only, chilli flakes and spices were added to create that sweet and sour taste and amazing colours.

Kimchi is to Korea what pasta is to Italy – every region has its own variation. One of the most popular kimchi is made with Wombok (Nappa) cabbage. Other variations include radish, daikon, spring onions or cucumber. Many different spices and flavourings are used, with chilli and salt being the main ingredients.

I made my Kimchi a few months ago and forgot to write my recipe and take photos of the process. So I hope these Kimchi recipes inspire you to make it just as they’ve given me some new inspiration.

In a pickle - Bill Granger is crazy for kimchi

Cook Eat Love Vegetarian‘s Kimchi I pinned it to my Condiments board & looks similar to the one I made but I didn’t use any apple; Bill Granger (pictured above) has some great ideas of how to use Kimchi (pictured); Mom’s kimchi recipe (pictured above) will be the one I try next. It looks so good! Then for all my Vegan friends out there, here’s a Kimchi recipe for you. If you try it let me know what you think.

MissFoodFairy's pickled radish

I had made some pickled radish (pictured) not that long ago but once again, I didn’t think they’d succeed so I never wrote down my recipe or took photos! I’m so silly! I had never tried any pickling or fermentation before but after tasting them, I know I can do it. Again, here’s some inspiration, although not the recipes I adapted. I know I wouldn’t know how or where I could use my pickled radish – now you have some ideas to get you going. Happy pickling.

Brining home the harvest‘s recipe would be the closest to how I remember making my pickled radish, minus the peppercorns; This recipe from Food for my Family has an alternative to using sugar and plain vinegar. I think I’ll be trying this next time and last but not least what else could you use your pickled radishes for? Alive Australia shows us how good they look in a chicken burger – delicious!

Hope you feel inspired after those recipes! I know I can’t wait to try a couple.

TIP 1: When making the meatballs, I found slightly wetting my hands allowed the mixture to be more pliable when rolling them into balls, as it is quite a sticky mixture.

TIP 2: If you don’t have mushroom stock, water is fine. To make mushroom stock, soak dried Shitake or porcini mushrooms in warm water and allow to soak for 15-20 minutes. Remove mushroom and you have mushroom stock! I had used some shitake mushrooms the night before and had this beautiful stock left over. Instead of throwing it away, I kept it until needed. This freezes well too – for soups, sauces/gravy.


PREP: 1 hour & 10minutes     COOK: 30 minutes     MAKES: 38-40 meatballs

MissFoodFairy's japanese meatballs ingredients

300 grams medium tofu
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
½ cup milk
500 grams beef mince
2½cm piece fresh ginger, grated
2 spring (green) onions, finely sliced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ tablespoon mirin
¼ cup breadcrumbs
Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil

6 tablespoons light soy sauce
3 tablespoons mirin
6 tablespoons mushroom stock (or water)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 spring (green) onion, sliced thinly

Kimchi (optional)
Pickled radish (optional)


MissFoodFairy's tofu in tea towell Japanese meatballs   MissFoodFairy's scrambled tofu Japanese meatballs
Place the tofu in a tea towel (or cheesecloth if you have) over a strainer and squeeze out as much as excess moisture as you can. You want the tofu to resemble scrambled eggs when finished. This process can take up to 10 minutes – be gentle or the tofu will seep out the towel or cheesecloth.

MissFoodFairy's Japanese meatball ingredients together   MissFoodFairy's mixed Japanese meatballs

In a large mixing bowl, combine the milk and Panko breadcrumbs first, then add the rest of the meatball ingredients. Divide the meatball mixture into 3-4cm balls. Use a dessert spoon to measure mixture. The meatballs will be quite delicate but not sloppy. If they are, add more breadcrumbs.

Place one tablespoon olive oil per 10-15 meatballs in a fry pan and cook until browned all over. Remove and set aside until all meatballs are cooked. I did mine in three batches.

In a small saucepan, add all the sauce ingredients for the sauce. Bring to the boil then remove immediately from the heat.

If you have enough space in your frypan, place all the meatballs back and deglaze the pan with the sauce. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens slightly, coating all the meatballs. OR as I did, cook the meatballs in three batches adding a third of the sauce with each batch of meatballs.

MissFoodFairy's Japanese meatballs in pita with kimchi & radish

Serve immediately with steamed rice or noodles. Or like we did, serve with pita bread, kimchi and pickled radish – yumm!

MissFoodFairy's Japanese-inspired meatballs with kimchi & radish

Enjoy these tasty meatballs. Looking forward to making them again!



Looking for more food inspiration? Come and join me at the Weekend Social linkup party #32 via Kitchen Dreaming or The McCallum’s Shamrock Patch. Such a wonderful way to meet new foodie friends from all over the world.

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I’ve also joined Fabulous Foodie Fridays #13 via Bake Play Smile and Create Bake Make. This week there’s so much food inspiration – it seems to be getting bigger every week! Love meeting new friends from all over the world who have the same passion about food as I do, would love to see you there 🙂

4 comments on “Japanese-inspired meatballs

  1. Thank you so much for linking up with our Fabulous Foodie Fridays party once again!! We agree that it seems to be getting bigger and bigger – and it’s all thanks to awesome bloggers like you! Now, can I just say that those meatballs sound (and look) absolutely divine! They have just been put on my must-make list! xx


    • Thank you so much Lucy 🙂 I love being a part of such an amazing foodie community. These meatballs are something the kids will love too as the sauce is sweet – pack them full of veggies and watch them go for it! Enjoy! xx


  2. hope you enjoy the recipe! 🙂 can’t wait to hear what you think of it.


    • Thank you for sharing your mum’s kimchi. Next time there’s a Wombok cabbage on sale, I’ll make it 🙂 Will let you know how I go


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