Despite the name, this recipe is about two things: 1) a pungent, assertive Thai-inspired dressing, and 2) herbs. The meatballs are great and all, but when I get an irrational craving for basil, I make this. If you can find Thai or Holy Basil, even better (though regular basil will work just fine).
I’ve made this a few times now, and I can confirm that you can successfully sneak in some offal here. The assertive flavors in the salad really help offset any ick factor. The last batch I made had about 1/2 pound of lamb livers added in to a pound of meat, and while the flavor was awesome (no metallic twinge on the tongue at all), the texture was definitely altered. Next time I might go for more like 1/4 pound. This is totally optional, of course, but to sell you on the idea, my 2 1/2-year-old daughter couldn’t get enough of these meatballs. Which gives us parenting lesson #3: What They Don’t Know is Good for Them.
If you’re making a big batch of these (great for company!), you can bake them in a 400°F oven for about 20 minutes. For some reason, that’s too high maintenance for me, so I tend to cook them in my biggest sauté pan on the stove, turning them to get nice browned surfaces all around.
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tsp. honey
zest and juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
dash of red chile flakes (or more to taste)
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1/4 -1/2 pound liver, optional (chicken, lamb, beef)
2 pounds ground pork (pastured if you can get it)
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. wheat-free tamari or coconut aminos
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
8 cups mixed salad greens
1 cup basil leaves, torn
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 bunch green onions, sliced thinly
Veggies like tomatoes and/or cucumber and/or red pepper
1) Make dressing by throwing all ingredients in a food processor. Whirl it around until combined then put it in a large bowl. Set aside.
2) Make yer meatballs. If using liver, put in the food processor until puréed (YUM!), then place in another large bowl along with the rest of the meatball ingredients. Get your clean hands in there and mix together. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat (or opt for baking in oven at 400°F for 20 minutes) and add meatballs as you form them. By the time you get the pan filled, it will probably be time to start flipping the ones you started with. When two sides are nice and browned, reduce heat to medium and continue turning until cooked through, a total of about 20 minutes.
3) Add all salad ingredients to large bowl with dressing in it and toss. Plate a few handfuls of salad and top with several meatballs. Now that’s good.