There was another reason I was feeling intimidated. Two words: appetizer potluck. What does a food enthusiast (=amateur) bring to a potluck for a bunch of women who know their stuff? What else but meat on a stick and dipping sauce, of course! Because professionals or no, everyone likes meat on a stick. And what's the fun of eating meat on a stick if you can't dip it in something?
Panang Cocktail Meatballs
serves a crowd (8 to 10)
- 2 lbs ground beef
- ¼ cup panang curry paste
- 2 eggs
- 3 tbs cornstarch
- 1 to 2 tbs fish sauce
- ½ to 1 tbs sugar
- 5 to 10 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
- Thai cucumber relish or sweet chili sauce for serving
You may cook the curry paste by frying it over low-medium heat in about a tablespoon of oil for about 5 minutes. This is not necessary, but it helps to enhance the flavor of the curry paste.
In a large bowl, scramble the eggs, then slowly add in the cornstarch and whisk until it’s well incorporated. Add in the curry paste, fish sauce, sugar and chopped lime leaves. Mix until you get a uniform mass. Mix in the ground beef and make sure it’s thoroughly incorporated. Form into mini-meatballs and plop them into the boiling water. They conveniently float to the top when they are cooked. Fish them out, drain them and let them cool, at least until they stop steaming.
One last step before you’re done! In an ideal world, I would grill these babies over low heat, but trying to start a fire in the rain is just stupid. The second best option is to stir-fry the meatballs to get a nice caramelized outside, while the inside remains moist. During the last minute of stir-frying, I drizzled in some sweet-sour glaze (simple syrup + rice vinegar, to taste) and chopped Thai basil (optional). Alternatively, you could use Thai sweet chili sauce. If you don’t feel like stir-frying you could just as easily stick them under a broiler for a few minutes, turning every so often, until they start to brown.
Serve stuck on skewers with accompanying dipping sauce.