Korean Meatballs and Noodles
This kalbi meatball recipe, adapted from the cookbook “Koreatown,” is easy and quick enough to consider for midweek dinner. It offers the sweetly peppered, deeply satisfying flavors typical of many Korean dishes, and gives new personality to everyday spaghetti and meatballs. My favorite utensil for making ground meat mixtures, by the way, is an old-fashioned potato masher. The book suggests wrapping the meatballs in lettuce, but I tossed them with noodles in a sauce that exploited the brown bits left in the cooking of the meatballs.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 1pound ground beef, preferably short rib and chuck
- 1 ½tablespoons honey
- 1teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1tablespoon Asian sesame oil
- 1tablespoon rice vinegar
- ⅓cup chopped peeled Bosc or Asian pear
- ¼cup chopped onion
- ½tablespoon grated ginger
- 3tablespoons soy sauce
- 2cloves garlic, minced
- 1large egg, beaten
- ⅓cup dry bread crumbs, preferably whole wheat
- 6ounces udon noodles or linguine
- 2tablespoons gochujang, or ketchup seasoned with 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 3scallions, trimmed and slant-cut
Step 1Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place beef in a bowl.
Step 2Combine honey, black pepper, sesame oil, vinegar, pear, onion, ginger, soy sauce and half the garlic in a food processor or blender and whirl until well blended. Mix with beef. Add egg and bread crumbs and mix again. Form into 1 1/2-inch balls and arrange on the baking sheet with a bit of space between them. Place in the oven and bake 20 minutes.
Step 3While meatballs bake, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and boil 5 minutes for udon, about 8 minutes for linguine. Reserve 2/3 cup of the pasta water, then drain pasta.
Step 4When meatballs are done, transfer them to a bowl and scrape pan juices into a sauté pan. Heat on medium, add remaining garlic and cook briefly until it starts to color. Whisk in gochujang, then pasta water. Simmer about 3 minutes, until sauce reduces and starts to thicken. Reduce heat to low, add noodles and toss in sauce. Add meatballs and mix gently. Transfer to a warm serving dish or individual bowls, scatter with scallions and serve.