The tiniest of sandwiches with the largest of flavors. Mini Meatball Sliders have the umami of miso, the saltiness of soy, the sweetness of mirin, and the earthiness of cremini mushrooms. You will want to pop these sweet and salty meatball sliders in your mouth every time you pass a platterful!
Served with an easy cucumber salad, these two-bite appetizers are enhanced with Asian flavors and garnished with sesame seeds and garlic.
The appetizer appeal
A tradition at the culinary school I attended was the post-graduation ceremony reception. The next class to graduate was responsible for cooking the food at their predecessor's party. These students are a semester away from graduating, so their skill level is high. Having cooked the semester before, I knew the menu - and it wasn't skimpy.
My husband and sister-in-law had a plan. I shared the menu with them before the ceremony and that got them thinking. A plan was hatched. Standing by the kitchen door, they were the first to see each tray on its way to the crowd. Giving the appetizers a cursory glance, they made on-the-spot decisions. Canapes' went by untouched. Shrimp - a grand prize. Cheese tray - unscathed. Beef tenderloin instantly coveted. You get the idea. Needless to say, they and all the guests gorged.
The point is some appetizers have instant appeal. Others - meh. Frankly, I could make a meal out of appetizers. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. Imagine a minute smorgasbord on your plate.
But what set me on this meatball recipe journey was the buns. While in the bread aisle at the grocery store I noticed these tiny little "party" rolls. The perfect size for an appetizer and frankly, the party designation was irresistible. I took this as a challenge, to find the perfect sandwich middle.
Big flavor in a small bite
Don't let the size of these two-bite Mini Meatball Sliders fool you. The emphasis on opposing flavors - sweet/salty, bright/earthy, and sharp/mellow creates a dynamic profile. As an added plus, the mirin leaves a beautiful glaze on the outside of the meatball.
The meatballs are made with both ground beef and pork along with cremini mushrooms. The mushrooms have a similar texture and meaty flavor. I dice them very small so that the mushrooms almost disappear. I don't want big pieces jutting out from the sides of the meatballs.
Just as finely minced are the shallots and garlic. Again, I am trying to match the dimensions of the meatball. I don't want a big chunk of anything to interfere with texture.
Add panko and a beaten egg so that the meatballs do not dry out. This will also help tenderize the interior.
Then it is the flavor enhancers - soy, mirin, miso, grated ginger, and sesame oil. This is where the magic happens. It is important to make sure that the ingredients are distributed throughout the ground meat. But is it also important to only mix the meat until the binders are incorporated. Basically, you want to stop at just enough. Overmixing meatballs will cause them to be tough.
Baked not fried
I have tried many times to fry meatballs. Invariably I end up with some odd geometric shape. Flat-sided, unable to roll, and very unappetizing. I bake meatballs, for a couple of reasons. They tend to retain their circular shape. I am not hanging out at a sputtering pan cursing my ground meat oddities. Placed on a rack, the fat drips to the sheet pan underneath leading to an ungreasy meatball. Lastly, it's hands-off. I can attend to other things, in this case, cucumber salad.
I use the tiniest of buns. They are called party size, which just makes them sound amusing. I find it helps to lightly toast the inside of buns to improve the texture of the whole sandwich.
One of my favorite condiments for these sliders is Kewpie mayo. The rich and slightly sweet taste mirrors the flavors of the meatballs. Give the bun a good slather.
Cucumber salad is quick, easy, and very adaptable. I combine thinly sliced English cucumbers with shredded carrots, minced cilantro, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and recipe wine vinegar. Maybe you would like a like sesame oil in yours or Fresno chile slices, or green onions.
I add a few slices of cucumber on top of the Kewpie mayo then the meatball and the little bun hat. Super fast assembly.
As a garnish, I brush the tops of the buns with a butter, garlic, and sesame wash. I put the tray under the broiler for about a minute, just enough to see the butter sizzle.
Is it your turn to bring appetizers?
Maybe you were volunteered to bring an appetizer to a party. Or you want something the family can nibble on while catching up with each other. Could be you just want sliders!
Mini Meatball Sliders are a satisfying little bite. A harmonious blend of ingredients creates a flavor-packed little appetizer. A thumbs up from my discerning family!
Another appetizer recipe - https://tenpoundcakecompany.com/scalloped-potato-puffs
Mini Meatball Sliders
- sheet pan
- 1 pound ground beef 454 grams
- ½ pound ground pork 227 grams
- 2 tablespoons finely diced shallot .7 ounce/20 grams
- 1 cup finely diced cremini mushrooms 2.7 ounces/76 grams
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs 1.4 ounces/37 grams
- 1 ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger .3 ounces/7 grams
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons mellow white miso
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 30 mini slider rolls I used Martin's Party Potato Rolls
- ¾ cup thin hothouse cucumber slices 3.5 ounces/88 grams
- ½ cup shredded carrots 1.3 ounces/36 grams
- 1 teaspoon minced cilantro
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar 59ml
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- Preheat oven to 375°
- Place rack on top of a sheet tray and coat with nonstick spray.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine ground beef, ground pork, minced shallot, minced cremini mushrooms, minced garlic, grated ginger, miso, mirin, soy, sesame oil, salt, and pepper.
- Beat the egg and add to the bowl along with the panko bread crumbs.
- The meatballs here are made with a 1 ½ tablespoon scoop. Roll the meatballs in your hands after scooping so they are round. Place on the rack.
- Place the tray in the oven. After 15 minutes rotate the pan in the oven for even browning. Take out of the oven after 25 minutes.
- While meatballs are baking, combine cucumber slices, shredded carrots, cilantro, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and rice wine vinegar. The cucumbers will get softer the longer they are in the vinegar.
- Cut open the slider buns and toast the insides under a broiler until lightly browned. Brush the tops of the buns with a mix of olive oil, minced garlic sesame seeds, and minced cilantro. Toast for less than a minute the broiler.
- I like to use Kewpie mayonnaise for the slider. I slather a little on the bottom bun. Add some of the cucumber salad on top of the mayonnaise.
- Add a warm meatball on top of the cucumber salad and then the bun top.