Thursday, September 23, 2010

Glazed Pork Balls and Kabocha

I went out and got some ground pork and half a kabocha (Japanese squash) today, so I set about putting them together in one meal.  I've never cooked kabocha before, so it was a new thing to me.  It's wonderful, and I recommend it to anyone who hasn't tried it before!  No cookbook recipes tonight.  While I got ideas and relative measurements from some of the recipes in my books, I generally made up what I cooked tonight, so we could say these are my own recipes.

photo by Emily
Glazed Pork Balls and Kabocha


Pork Balls
1/4 lb. ground pork
1 egg, beaten
6 Tbsp. panko bread crumbs (although I imagine any sort of plain bread crumb will do)
1/4 tsp. corn starch
1/4 in. fresh ginger root, finely shredded
Glaze for Pork Balls
1 1/4 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. sake
1/2 tsp. mirin
1/2 tsp. brown sugar (although white sugar will do just fine)
1/4 tsp. corn starch
1-2 oz. kabocha squash, innards removed
1 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. brown sugar
large handful of baby spinach
1/2 tsp. soy sauce
sesame seeds
2 umeboshi (pickled plum--optional)
4 slices takuan (pickled diakon--optional)

Combine the ingredients for the pork balls and mix together well with your hands.  Roll the meat mixture into meatballs roughly the size of a golf ball, and set aside.  In a pot, boil water, then gently drop in the meatballs.  Cook the meatballs for 6-7 minutes until they change from pinkish to creamish and float to the top of the water.  Drain. 

Heat up a grill and add the meatballs (I found that a George Foreman grill works just fine).  Cook until somewhat browned.  Mix together the ingredients for the glaze, and cook them until the sauce starts to thicken.  Remove from heat and pour into a separate cup.  When the meatballs have browned, brush the glaze all over the meatballs and continue to cook until the glaze caramelizes on the meatballs.  Remove from the grill and set aside.

In a pot, boil water and blanch the spinach leaves for 1 minute, then drain well.  Squeeze as much moisture out of the leaves as possible and form into a little cylinder.  Pour 1/2 tsp. soy sauce over the spinach and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Cut the kabocha into roughly 1 in. chunks, but leave the green skin on.  Boil water in a pot and add the kabocha, cooking until tender.  The kabocha is done when a fork easily pierces the flesh.  Drain.  Heat the soy sauce and sugar gently in the pot and add the kabocha.  Stir until well coated, then remove from heat.

To serve, put the glazed pork balls in a bowl, the kabocha in another bowl, and serve the spinach on a small plate with umeboshi and takuan.  (This dish may also be served with rice.)

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