Polpettini ai 5-Spezie e Riso Glutinoso
5-Spice Meatballs with Sticky Rice
I made a return visit to my beloved 5-spice powder jar this evening- we really should get to see each other a little more often! I think it is quite a shame that this delicious blend of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper and fennel seeds, has become so forgotten, giving way to so many "authentic" and "regional" dishes- which let's face it- also get to be a little boring and bland when people overdo it too much!
No, I like a little spice in my life, so this evening decided to pep-up some little meatballs and make myself a simple, satisfying but flavorful, Chinese inspired dish. It turned out a little bit like this...
I got the rice going in my rice cooker, with a hint of lemon juice, some salt and a tiny pinch of sugar- just to give it a light citrus note. And while that was gently steaming away, I prepared a fine julienne of carrot, celery, sugar-snap peas and chives. I set this to one side and sliced about 1" worth of ginger nice and thinly too, to both flavor the meatballs, but also to serve as a garnish later.
With all of my prep-work done, I turned my attention back to the meatballs. To make them, I used ground pork and beef and seasoned them with salt, pepper, 5-spice powder, lime juice, finely chopped shallot, a little Thai sweet chili sauce, a hint of fish sauce and a little cayenne. Knead everything together gently but firmly, until the meat becomes a light, compact mass. Form into small, oval meatballs and begin frying at a moderate heat in a non-stick pan.
Once the meat has begun to brown, add the finely sliced ginger and fry until crispy and brown. Remove the ginger, keep flipping the meatballs until they are good on all sides, but add the julienne' vegetables at this point. Sautée for 3-4 minutes, until cooked and glossy from the meat juices, but not overly soft. And for the last 3-4 minutes, add a couple of tender Spring onions to the pan... and you will be able to serve it all up in just a matter of minutes.
I spread the julienne of vegetables out on a layer of sticky rice, to form a tasty and attractive base for the meatballs- the toasted ginger went on top as a garnish. I dipped mine as I went, into oyster sauce, but a light drizzle of sesame oil would have also been a nice, simple dressing. So there you have it- a very simple, but sophisticated little supper and all done within 20 minutes as usual. And who can complain about that?