Sweet and spicy, Korean Barbecue-Inspired Meatballs are a delicious appetizer. Baked in the oven, they are full of flavor, easy to make, and irresistible!
I wish I could say that adhering to Covid-19 restrictions is the reason for my habit. I have confessed before to my stashing tendencies. A trip through my refrigerator is a culinary recap of what I have made for dinner, what recipes I am currently working on, and scraps. But those scraps are gold and are often the seeds of inspiration for me.
I miss the old routines. I think we all do after a year of putting everything on hold. Indulging in daydreams with my friends, we talk about the first place we will return to when the current restrictions are lifted. Restaurants rank high on the list.
Which brings me back to my rumination. I had half of a mango, a small amount of caramelized onions, and just short of a pound of ground beef that needed to be used.
I have a shelf in the fridge with various bottles and jars of sauces, spicy and piquant. Looking at a jar of gochujang, I remember one of the restaurants on the when Covid is over list - a Korean barbecue restaurant in my neighborhood, BYOB, and never without a line out the door.
So Korean barbecue-inspired meatballs it is! Easy to make and full of personality, you choose your spice level. I love the almost fruity sweetness of gochujang and the flavor it brings to meatballs. It is a great compliment to the mangos and caramelized onions.
The first step is to puree the mango, gochujang, soy, garlic, and ginger. Combine the ground beef with the sauce as well as the bread crumbs and caramelized onions. While you can make this recipe without caramelizing a small amount of diced onions, it is helpful if they are sauteed until soft and lightly browned.
Lastly, roll about 1 ½ tablespoons of the mix into a meatball and place on a baking rack coated with cooking spray. I like to bake meatballs for a couple of reasons. Baking the meatballs requires less standing at the stove time, creates less mess, and the fat drips off onto the sheet pan below.
Sweet and spicy
Thicken the remaining sauce with the addition of light brown sugar and combine with the baked meatballs. You may think you don't have enough but trust me, there is plenty of sauce. So good! I like them arranged on a bowl of rice with a quick cucumber salad.
But if you need to feed some friends, this is a quick and easy recipe. Serve them on a platter with sesame seeds and green onions for garnish and guests can help themselves. Which they will so make sure you have plenty. They will go fast!
Note - try the Simple Korean Cucumber Salad at Kimchimari - https://kimchimari.com/korean-cucumber-salad.
Korean Barbecue-Inspired Meatballs
- sheet pan
- baking rack
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 cup mango ripe, cubed
- 2 tablespoons onions small dice, caramelized
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 ½ teaspoons gochujang
- ¾ teaspoon ginger minced
- ¾ cup bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- salt and black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350°
- It helps to precook the onions and let them cool while you prepare the sauce. I had caramelized onions when I made the recipe. If you do not want to caramelize such a small amount of onions, saute them until they are soft and lightly brown. They will incorporate with the ground beef much easier when cooked.
- In a food processor, add the diced mango, soy sauce, garlic, gochujang, ginger, and ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper. Process until the mango and garlic are pureed. It is okay if the sauce has a little texture.
- In a medium-sized bowl, add the ground beef, onions, bread crumbs, and ¼-cup of the mango/soy sauce. Completely mix all ingredients together.
- Place a baking rack on top of a sheet pan and coat with cooking spray. This will make clean up much easier.
- I used a portion scoop to make the meatballs, but you can easily do this step by hand. Take 1 ½ tablespoons of the ground beef and roll into a ball. Place on the rack, spacing the meatballs about 1 ½-2 inches apart. You should have approximately 17 meatballs.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
- While the meatballs are in the oven, pour the rest of the sauce into a small pan. Add the brown sugar. Heat with a medium flame until the sauce is bubbling. It will start to thicken. It may look like there is not enough sauce, but there is.
- Once the meatballs are done baking, add them to the pan with the sauce. Carefully stir the meatballs in the sauce to coat.