Four Joy Chinese Meatballs recipe
Officially, it is the Four Joy Chinese Meatballs recipe, but I call it Grandma’s Chinese Meatballs Recipe. It is called Four Joy, because it is served during the four joyful life celebrations – Courtship, Marriage, Child Rearing, Aging. Legend has this recipe dating back to the Qin dynasty around 221 BC. Indeed, this is what my grandmother cooked on every special occasion. We don’t get to eat it during regular meals. Only on special occasions like new year, birthdays, special celebrations, only then do we get to enjoy meatballs. My grandma is dead now, but I made sure I asked for the recipe, and I have it down as Grandma Chinese Meatballs recipe.
My grandmother probably had 20 recipes in her head. She did not need any recipe books. They were all stored in her memory. She cooked the same recipes all the time, in rotation. I realized that is no different from many of my Canadian immigrant friends. One South African friend told me that her mother has only 5 recipes that she cook in rotation. My son’s good friend whose parents are British immigrants only cook British recipes, and only goes to British restaurants. On the other hand, I have many Canadian friends from all around the world who enjoys different types of cuisine.
My grandmother’s meatballs were made with ground chicken and pork. For some reason, beef or lamb was never used. Likely, because the flavor is too gamey and overpowering. It was always deep fried to a dark brown color. We would then have two types of dip: a garlic soy sauce dip and a ketchup dip.
Having grown older and more health conscious. I do not use the deep frying method for my meatballs. Instead, my recipe calls for baking at 400 degrees, and browning them at the last minute with the oven turn on broil. Just be watchful of the oven, so that you do not burn the meatballs.
Grandma Chinese Four Joy Meatballs Recipe
- 1 lb ground chicken, pork or turkey
- 2 sprig green onions, very finely chopped
- 1/2 cup very finely chopped cilantro
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsps soy sauce
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsps cornstarch
- 1 egg
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Stir and mix together above ingredients, then roll meatballs into bite-size balls.
- Grease cookie sheet and arrange meatballs on sheet
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until well-browned and cooked through.
- Prepare dipping sauce of brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and fresh ginger
- Serve with toothpicks for dipping.
Ginger Soy Dipping sauce:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 or 3 slices fresh ginger smashed with the side of a heavy knife
1. In a small pot, stir the dipping sauce ingredients together over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves.
2. Turn heat to low and stir frequently for about 3 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
3. Scoop out the ginger and serve in small dipping cups.
The meatballs can be frozen for future use. Keep up to 3 months.
1. Take out frozen meatballs and place on casserole dish.
2. Pour Chinese barbecue marinade of hoisin sauce/ketchup and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.