Let’s talk about meatballs. There is a reason everyone loves them! The variety of meat and sauce combinations is endless. They are often my go-to meal for dinner on busy nights (my other go-to being tacos for the same reason – variety!). I was home the other day thinking about dinner, as I often do, usually right after waking up. I had a package of ground turkey to use up, but no ideas of what to do with it, so my mind went immediately to meatballs!
That decision made, I was then standing staring into my pantry wondering what kind of meatballs to make. I saw a jar of black bean garlic sauce that I had bought on a whim. Black bean is my favorite Chinese sauce, it’s extra flavorful, a little salty, and it adds that umami, slightly indescribable thing to this dish, it’s delicious! So an idea was born, turkey meatballs with black bean sauce.
Chinese black beans are not to be confused with the regular black beans you would use for chili, etc. Chinese black beans are made by fermenting soybeans in garlic, salt and other spices. This process turns them black. I used a jar of prepared black bean sauce, but you can also get the fermented black beans dry packed. They have intense flavor, but when they are paired with the other ingredients, you will have a really delicious sauce.
If you prep some of the ingredients ahead of time, the meal comes together quickly. You can make the meatball mixture and prep the veggies the day before, or in the morning, and dinner will be on the table in no time. I don’t use any bread or cracker binding in the meatballs, or egg. I want the meatballs to be smaller than usual, and to be a little more dense so they stay together in the stir frying part of the cooking.
Once the prep work is done, you can start browning the meatballs in a large saute pan. I highly recommend a splatter screen! It will save on any oil splatters on your stove, or on your favorite shirt. Next you saute the veggies, add the meatballs back to the pan, and stir in the sauce. That’s it! Your meatball dinner is ready.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 pound of ground turkey
- ½ cup onion, diced small
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons water or chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or sherry
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (or more to taste)
- 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated (about a tablespoon)
- 3 tablespoons black bean garlic sauce
- 1 red sweet pepper and 1 orange sweet pepper, both large diced
- 1 medium yellow onion, large diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Prepare the meatball mixture: In a large bowl, mix together the ground turkey, onion, garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper with your hands until just combined. Roll into approximately 20 1 inch meatballs. This can be done the morning or the day before and stored in a covered container in the fridge.
- Prep the peppers, onion and garlic and set aside.
- Mix together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
- Heat the vegetable oil for the meatballs in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Brown the meatballs in batches, don't crowd the pan! Remove the browned meatballs from the pan and set aside.
- Add the peppers, onions and garlic to the sauté pan, also adding an additional tablespoon of vegetable oil if necessary. Turn the heat up to medium high. Sauté until the veggies are slightly softened and browned in spots, about 5 minutes.
- Add the meatballs back to the pan, and then pour the sauce in too. Stir-fry gently to mix. While stirring, let the sauce start to bubble and thicken, about 3 minutes.
- Pour into your serving bowl and enjoy with rice or noodles.