Happy (almost) birthday, America! You're turning 238 this year! Hope you guys are looking forward to the July 4th with amazing cookouts, good company, spectacular fireworks, and let's not forget the most important of all - celebration of freedom and democracy. While America might not paint a perfect picture for everyone, we, as residents of this great nation, are truly fortunate to be living freely and enjoying the beauty of democracy.
Every year around the fourth of July, I get a little sad which has nothing to do with America's birthday. And nobody should be crying at a birthday party filled with food and entertainment (unless you're scared of clowns). But on the same week as America celebrates its independence, my birth place of Hong Kong is fighting for its own democracy on the other side of the world. This year, 510,000 Hong Kong citizens showed up on the annual July 1st march to demonstrate their desire for full democracy, and showed their support for a true election in 2017 that the Chinese central government had promised when the city was returned from the hands of Great Britain. Can you imagine if 510,000 people took the streets of New York City? Look, I love Hong Kong and it'd forever be my home where my roots are. I believe Hong Kong is a very special place like no others. It's just a little unbearable to see it being threatened increasingly by the Chinese central government whose a true bully on this playing field.
Well, until Hong Kong has reached full democracy, I will always have a little tear in my heart during Fourth of July. You may say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one.
My feet, however, are standing on the soil of The United States of America. Therefore, I need to focus on what's also important to me - celebrating America's birthday! (YAY!) In this case, I brought meatballs to the party, y'all! While these are cooked on the stovetop, I highly recommend that you throw them over the grill at your Fourth of July cookout!
I love these bamboo skewers from Crate & Barrel - they're the best skewers! I got them from a Crate & Barrel outlet store in Chicago a while ago so they might not carry them anymore :( Shame!
Did you know that oyster sauce is great for seasoning beef? When I was trying to think of ingredients for these meatballs, I wanted something that's very flavorful, something more than just soy sauce. Oyster sauce seemed to be a great fit so I went testing my theory.
Not gonna lie. My first batch was way salty. I had forgotten the richness of oyster sauce, and went a little too heavy-handed. After adjusting the amount of it, the meatballs were golden, and ready to party! Meat is always good when it's got some char on it and these meatballs did not disappoint being cooked on the cast iron pan and not the grill. The hints of garlic and ginger came through, and the sweetness of the plum sauce was perfecto to go along with the savory beef.
Serve these meatballs with sweet plum sauce over rice, with buns, or even as lettuce wraps!
Have a spectacular Fourth, everyone!
MEATBALLS WITH SWEET PLUM SAUCE (蘇梅牛肉丸)
Prep time: 2 hrs 10 mins Cook time: 15 mins Total time: 2 hrs 25 mins
Serves: about 24, 1" meatballs
- 1 lb ground beef, 80% lean
- 2 tbsp garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp ginger, minced
- 2 tbsp scallion, finely chopped
- ¾ tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 4 tbsp Chinese plum sauce
- 2 tbsp warm water
- Mix together ground beef, garlic, ginger, scallion, oyster sauce, and worcestershire sauce in a mixing bowl. Refrigerate, and let it marinate for 2 hours or up to overnight.
- Remove beef mixture from the fridge, and let it return to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
- While waiting, stir plum sauce together with water. Set aside.
- Mix panko breadcrumbs with the meat until well-combined.
- Heat a cast iron pan on medium-low, and add 2 tbsp of olive oil. Give the pan a twirl to spread the oil on the pan.
- Roll one-inch meatballs, and place them on the cast iron pan. Sear them for about 2 minutes, or until golden brown all around. Cook in batches if needed, and add more oil when needed.
- When all the meatballs are seared, put them on the skewers. Continue to cook on the cast iron on low heat for an additional 10-12 minutes. Rotate occasionally, and check the center temperature as you go.
- Let them cool for 1 minute, then top with sweet plum sauce.
- Serve immediately over rice, on a bun, or as lettuce wraps!