Thursday, March 21, 2013

thai chicken larb balls with creamy coconut sauce

My pal Andrew Veety wrote a series about St. Louis Thai restaurants in last month's FEAST magazine, and it got my wheels turning. I love Thai food (see list of previous posts from the archives for proof, below)... it might be one of my top 3 favorite cuisines. Why? To me, Thai food has everything... dishes usually include spicy, tart, sweet and salty all in one bite! Gorgeous and balanced... warms you up when you're cold and refreshes you in St. Louis' wet-blanket summers. Plus? There's often coconut involved.  Creamy, sweet, hydrating, nourishing, sensual.... Nature's perfect ball.

Thai Larb is usually on the appetizer portion of your favorite Thai joint. Ground chicken with a combo of flavors that awaken your senses... mostly your tongue senses. It's probably easier to just make it in the traditional form instead of making balls, but these would be great for a party appetizer... you could make little skewers with a ball, mango cube, and piece of lettuce and serve the coconut sauce as a dip!

The exciting part (for me) about this recipe is the addition of toasted rice as a binder. It imparts a really nice nutty toasty flavor to the mild chicken. It also gives the balls an almost springy texture... a texture I have found in most Asian meatballs but could never figure out... I'm on to you, Asia!!! Your Balls, at least.

Thai Chicken Larb Balls 
-1/3 cup jasmine rice, uncooked
-1 lb. ground chicken
-1 egg
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 Thai chili, minced
-1 shallot, minced
-1 handful cilantro, chopped fine
-1 Tablespoon fish sauce
-2 Tablespoons soy sauce
-juice from 1 lime
-2 teaspoons honey
-1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
Creamy Coconut Sauce 
-1 15 oz. can Whole coconut milk (Lite will not work for this)
-1 Thai chili, minced
-1 handful cilantro, chopped fine
-salt to taste 
Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl with a whisk. Cover and store in the fridge.
Toast the rice in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan often so the rice doesn't burn. Carefully toast it until it is a light brown, like the color of hay. Be very careful to keep it moving and not burn it. Let cool a bit then grind up the toasted rice in a food processor or spice grinder into a powder. 
Mix the rice powder with the rest of the ball ingredients using your hands so everything is well-blended. Let mixture sit for 15-20 minutes. 
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. 
Form meat mixture into small, 1.5-inch balls and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for about 20 minutes, turning the balls halfway through to brown on 2 sides.

Serve with coconut sauce, thinly sliced red onions and mango, and lettuce leaves.

Related (Thai-ins, if you will) Posts from the Archives:
Nam Tok Beef
Coconut Noodle Soup
Thai Potstickers
Pork Belly Cucumber Stir-Fry
Coconut Curry Peanut Butter Cookies!
Sort-Of Thai Pork Stir-Fry
Fish Balls with Sweet Pork Filling
Cashew Chicken Balls
Coconut Peanut Soup
Garlic Lemongrass Shrimp with Coconut Rice
Pearl Cafe Spice Challenge on Food Blog Mafia

2013: Year of MORE BALLS Posts:
St. Louis' Best Balls Installment 4: Wonton King &Pho Long 
Bratwurst Pretzel Balls with Mustard Rarebit
Baked Blue Cheese Fig Balls
Crab Cake Scotch Quail Eggs
Cannellini Ball Sub
Pumpkin Risotto Arancini With Chipotle Cranberry Sauce
2012: Year of the Balls recap

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

Oh my goodness ... these sound delicious!

I love larb gai ... I can only imagine how good it is in ball form!