IF THERE’S ANY SHOT AT PRE-DETERMINED HAPPINESS IN LIFE,
IT WOULD BE TO ACQUIRE A TASTE FOR SPICY FOODS… EARLY IN THE WOMBS
OH relax, it’s not for me. This is for Jessica.
Some 2.5 years ago, voluntarily jobless and air-dropped to a place where I found mostly disagreements, I fled into the universe of food-blogosphere shielded behind self-loathing, desperation, and above all, in an impenetrable armour of cynicism. In the mist of not knowing what to expect, I kindly assured myself that there’d be absolutely nothing, not a cunning whiff of hope, don’t you dare, that could pull me out of the comfort of negativity. I was going to cook, record, and wither anonymously into early menopause.
Some 2.5 years later, this universe has turned out to be more unpredictable than I thought. Not fame, not money, not even a humble sense of accomplishment that came, but from this most unexpected of places, I found… a group of friends.
Friends whom I have never met, never actually talked to, whom I don’t know a lot or any personal details of, but more genuine, generous and sincere than most I’ve actually met in real life. Stranger friends, like Jessica.
Jessica is, for the lack of better words, an odd number by normal standards. Nowadays when the mere act of holding the door for the people behind you can feel troublesome, it takes more than cultivating social relationships to offer compliments or helps to total strangers. But Jessica is kind of girl who, out of the mere kindness to inform, would write you an email, a full email, to offer encouragement and support. This is for her and many other dear strangers, whom I would never have the pleasure to call friends, if I hadn’t started this url.
So when I was invited to join Jessica’s awesome cyber baby shower, it wasn’t excitement or party-fever that I felt. Instead, I felt touched. Touched, in an unconventional yet familiar kind of way, that I’m considered part of an awesome community. More than an assignment, this is the first time actually, that I wanted to contribute to a party.
But enough about me. Let’s trash up this party real good.
Well… more than a party. A baby shower!
At first, I had the most adorable idea of chicken sausage Scottish eggs, you know, “mother hens” wrapping her “babies” inside, then dropped into a tub of boiling-hot grease, fried to crispy perfection with a burst of hot baby yolks? Well, in a tad bit gruesome in hindsight, but nonetheless guaranteed tasty metaphor, don’t you think? But what happened, as it turned out, was that I didn’t ultimately feel in-sync with Scottish egg’s anatomy. The problem with it, if I may, is the ratio between the sausage and the egg is inherently… off balance. The unseasoned eggs are wrapped with too little meat to acquire enough flavour, but making it any bigger than it already is – the hassle that comes with it and loss of cuteness – is just one more reason not to make it.
So I changed tactic. Although the mom’n babe/chicken’n egg concept has grown a stubborn root, it will be delivered in an entirely different form, which comes with the one and only true parenting advice available for human kind:
If there’s any shot at pre-determined happiness in life for babies, it would be to acquire a taste for spicy foods… early in the wombs.
So I hope that made it clear, that if you approach this enormity with the expectation of a simple tomato sauced-meatball sub, it would be pleasurably… painful mistake. You’d be kicked, left and right, with unexpected boldness and flavours that will set your taste-buds on fire. This is a spicy chicken meatballs sub, playing in a mean kiddy-pool of hot red, pineapple and orange sambal, with sauce-poached eggs.
The childish looking meatballs are in fact, aromatic taste-bombs made with truck-loads of lemongrass, shallots, ginger and herbs, with the ground chicken thighs merely acting as a glue to hold everything together. Then the seemingly harmless “red sauce” that they swim in, as you should be warned, is a firey concoction of pureed nuclear Thai red chilis, pineapples, orange zest, garlics, tomatoes, and the unmistakable punches from good douses of fish sauce, and fermented Thai shrimp paste (the soul within the sauce). Then of course comes the “babies”, with the egg-whites just set and the yolks still thick and runny… it is all together, with a zing from a squeeze of lemon juice, the most glorious and ultimate sloppiness of yum that you can stuff inside a toasty baguette, worthy of our mom-to-be.
But save a bit of room, if you can, because you may need to loosen up a button or two for this party. Thankfully, a tummy-bump is barely out of place today.
And here is the rest of this awesome gang:
TRASHED UP SALAD:
- Gimme Some Oven – Asian Broccoli Salad with Peanut Sauce
- The Lemon Bowl – Brussels Slaw with Tahini Dressing and Za’atar Crostini
- With Style & Grace – Kale Salad with Apple, Hazelnuts & Bacon
TRASHED UP COCKTAILS:
- Dine & Dish – Hot Buttered Rum Cocktail
- Food For My Family – Cranberry Orange Dark and Stormy Cocktail
- Minimalist Baker – Bourbon Pumpkin Milkshakes
- Stylish, Stealthy & (sometimes) Healthy – Apple Cider Shandy
- A Spicy Perspective – Preggy Punch Mocktail
- Girl vs. Dough – Boozy Maple Peanut Butter Cup Milkshake
- Honestly Yum – Maple Bacon Pisco Sour
- Cookin Canuck – Pink Grapefruit Margaritas
- A Thought For Food – Mezcal Citrico Cocktail
- A House in the Hills – Pomegranate Rosemary Spritzer
- The Novice Chef – Ginger Bourbon Apple Cider
- Bran Appetit – Citrus Cider Punch Floats
TRASHED UP BURGERS:
- Edible Perspective – Meatloaf Veggie Burgers with Mashed Potatoes + Gravy
- The Little Kitchen – Salmon BLT Sliders with an Avocado Aioli & Brie
- Daisy At Home – Balsamic Beef Burger with Mac and Cheese
- Cookies & Cups – Candied Bacon Maple Cheddar Burger
- Climbing Grier Mountain – Trashed-Up Steak Burger with Chicken Fried Bacon & Dijon Gravy
- Dessert For Two – Bleu Cheese Burgers + Sweet Potato Fries
- Country Clever – Fig Rosemary Roast Chicken Brie Brussels Sprout Panini
- Foodie Crush – The Best Cheeseburger Soup
- Lady and Pups – Spicy Sambal Chicken Meatball Sub with Eggs
- Two Peas & Their Pod – Sweet Potato and Kale Grilled Cheese
- Bake Your Day – Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich
TRASHED UP TACOS:
- Spoon Fork Bacon – Crunchy Ground Beef and Cheesy Tacos
- The Fauxmartha – Boozy Beef and Butternut Tacos
- With Food + Love – Harvest Hash Breakfast Tacos
- Mountain Mama Cooks – Crispy Kale and Brussels Sprout Tacos with Bacon
- Heather Christo – Bahn Mi Tacos with Spicy Sriracha Honey Sauce
- A Couple Cooks – Loaded Huevos Rancheros Tacos
- Fitnessista – San Diego Lobster Street Tacos
TRASHED UP DESSERTS:
- Table for Two – Salted Caramel, Dark Chocolate, and Brown Butter Shortbread Bars with Sprinkles
- My Name is Yeh – Mini Vanilla Loaf Cakes, All Trashed Up
- Picky Palate – Pumpkin Spice Butterscotch Sprinkle Cupcakes
- Sprinkle Bakes – Cake Batter Confetti Cupcakes
- Averie Cooks – Easy Homemade Funfetti Cake with Vanilla Buttercream
- Sweet Phi – Trashed Up Shortbread Cookie Bars
- Love & Olive Oil – Loaded Junk Food Brownies
- Lauren’s Latest – Bakery Sugar Cookies
- Cookie + Kate – Peanut Butter, Banana, Honey and Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Flourishing Foodie – Triple Layer Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
- The Sugar Hit – Salted Caramel Popcorn Ice Cream Cake
- Hummingbird High – Breakfast Cereal Cake Donuts
- Top With Cinnamon – Triple Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Crumb Cake
- Bake at 350 – Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sundaes
- Simple Bites – Lemon Layer Cake
- Bakerella – Baby Block Cake Pops
- She Wears Many Hats – Chocolate Covered Grapefruit
TRASHED UP PIZZAS:
- Bev Cooks – Beer Battered Fried Calamari Pizza
- Rachel Cooks – Apple and Chicken Sausage Pizza with Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Crust
- Foodie With Family – Trashed Up Barbecue Turkey Pizza
- Shutterbean – Pesto Potato Bacon Pizza
- i am a food blog – Grilled Cheese Pizza
- My Life as a Mrs – Chili Cheese Dog Pizza
- Simply Scratch – Steak + Blue Cheese Pizza with Crispy Fried Shallots and Honey Balsamic Drizzle
- The Beeroness – Beer Cheese Tater Tot Pizza
- Yes I Want Cake – Roasted Pumpkin Pizza
- Two Red Bowls – Bacon Mashed Potato Pizza
- Dula Notes – Pork Bahn Mi Pizza
- Weelicious – Trashed Up Mexican Pizza Pockets
- Take a Megabite – Roasted Beet Pizza
- Hungry Girl Por Vida – Hard Cider Braised Pork with Sour Cherries and Cheesy Polenta
- Bakers Royale – Trash’d Street Tacos
The key to this recipe, is lots and lots of super-finely minced lemongrass. You’ll almost think that this is too much lemongrass, almost 2/3 of the volume of the ground chicken! But that’s precisely what’s going to give these meatballs the impossible fragrance and textures. It’s also important to only use the soft, white parts near the roots of the lemongrass, so you don’t get a mouthful of woody-ness in your meatballs.
Then, a warning if you will, that this recipe is spicy. For me it’s like… just-hit-the-sweet-spots-of-Thai-food-lovers spicy, but could potentially, for you, be like holly-mother-of-earth-my-face-is-melting spicy… The heat mainly comes from the 4 small Asian red chilis (the long Asian red chilis are just for show), so you can adjust it accordingly. And try your best best to purchase Thai shrimp paste either from Asian groceries or online, as it is the “soul” behind the sauce.
* For extra careful pregnant ladies, you might want to fully cook the egg yolks.
- 17.6 oz (500 grams) skinless/boneless chicken thighs
- 3~4 stalks of lemongrass, soft/white parts only (110 grams/approx 1 cup)
- 3 medium-size shallots, minced
- 2 grated garlic
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) diced pineapple, fresh or canned
- The zest and flesh of 1/2 orange
- 9 long Asian red chili (115 grams), diced
- 4 small Asian red chili (8 grams), diced
- 7 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tsp Thai shrimp paste
- 4 tsp white vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 can (400 grams) peeled tomatoes
- 2 crusty baguette (I used multi-grain)
- 4~6 large eggs
- Wedges of lemon
- TO MAKE THE LEMONGRASS CHICKEN MEATBALLS: Flash-freeze the chicken thighs for 2 hours until firm. Cut into small chunks, then in a food-processor, pulse/grind until finely minced. Trim off the tough ends on both sides of the lemongrass, then cut and mince the soft white parts as finely as you can. If you have a stone-mortar or spice-grinder for this job, great, use it. Mix the ground chicken, finely minced lemongrass, minced shallots, grated garlic, grated ginger, chopped mint, chopped cilantro, fish sauce, white and black pepper until even.
- I like to pre-bake, or poach the meatballs before browning so they retain their nice, round shapes. Pre-heat the top-broiler on high, then make 11 ~ 12 meatballs (dab your hands with water if the meatballs are sticking to your hands) and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until the meatballs are set in shape and slightly browned. Or to poach, bring a large pot of water to boil, then carefully cook the meatballs until set in shape, then remove and drain. You can make the meatballs up to 2 days ahead.
- TO MAKE THE SPICY PINEAPPLE SAMBAL SAUCE: Zest the orange, then slice off the peels. Remove the orange-flesh from the segments without the fibrous membrane. In a blender, puree diced pineapple, 1/2 of the orange zest and segments, diced long red chili, diced small red chili, garlic, fish sauce, Thai shrimp paste (if absolutely unavailable, substitute with 2 tbsp of fish sauce), white vinegar and dark brown sugar. Run the blender for at least 1:30 ~ 2 min to ensure a smooth consistency.
- In a large non-stick skillet, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the partially cooked meatballs until nicely browned on all sides, then remove and set aside. Add the pineapple/chili puree, and cook until the mixture's reduced by 1/3 (cover the skillet partially with lid if it splatters). Then, puree the canned tomatoes in the same blender and add to the skillet, along with the browned meatballs. Simmer with the skillet partially lidded, until the sauce is reduced by almost 1/3 again.
- Clear spots in the skillet to make way for the eggs. Careful drop the eggs then cover the skillet completely, simmer until the egg whites are set with the egg yolks still runny. Turn off the heat and sprinkle with more chopped mint/cilantro, and a good squeeze of lemon.
- TO ASSEMBLE: Slice the baguette across in half, then toast under broiler until slightly browned. Fill the baguette with meatballs, sambal sauce and eggs. Serve immediately.