Asian Pork Meatballs (with char siu ketchup)

These meatballs tasted far better than they looked, honest

As the photo shows, I made a right balls-up of making Asian Pork Meatballs from Pinch of Nom. But I’m sharing with you the error of my ways as there’s a really interesting recipe here which could be brilliant providing you give it some TLC.

My biggest faux pas was that I used a large courgette rather than a small /medium one and then failed to get rid of the excess moisture / liquid – you can do this by ringing out the grated courgette using a clean tea-towel. It’s really important you do this, otherwise your meatballs will turn to mush when you come to form them and will be too fragile to cook in a frying pan. I tried to rescue mine by cooking them in the oven which kind of worked…. just, but the end result would have been so much better had I followed the recipe properly.

As the method states, try not to touch the meatballs for 5 minutes when cooking them through or they’ll easily disintegrate in the pan. You can serve them as a light lunch / starter with the char siu ketchup, or have them with a small bed of fine egg noodles or spaghetti for a main meal. But don’t forget to factor in the extra calories, a small nest of noodles will add about 170.

For other meatball recipes, check out chipotle turkey meatballs, Swedish meatballs in gravy, beef kofta curry and Transylvanian meatballs with garlic sauce.

Recipe: Asian Pork Meatballs

Calories: 272 per serving (just the meatballs and char siu ketchup)

Serves: 4

Book: Pinch of Nom – Everyday Light

Prep time: Approx 20 mins

Cooking time: Approx 30 mins


  • 500g 5% fat pork mince
  • 1 courgette (peeled and grated)
  • 1 carrot (peeled and grated)
  • 4 spring onions (trimmed and finely chopped)
  • 1 medium egg (beaten)
  • 1 tbsp garlic granules
  • 1 tsp onion granules
  • ½ tsp Chinese 5-spice
  • 1 pork stock cube
  • Low-calorie cooking spray
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce or Henderson’s relish
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • Sea salt
  • Ground black pepper

For the char siu ketchup:

  • 250g passata
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 tsp granulated sweetener
  • 1 tsp Chinese 5-spice

Cost per portion: Approx £1.46


Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C / Fan 200 degrees C / gas mark 7

Put the pork mince, courgette, carrot and spring onions into a large bowl. Add the egg, garlic granules, onion granules and Chinese 5-spice and crumble in the pork stock cube. Mix well with clean hands until combined, then shape the pork mix into 16-20 x 2cm diameter balls. (You can freeze them at this point if you like – defrost fully before cooking).

Spray a large frying pan with low-calorie cooking spray and place over a medium heat. You will need to cook the meatballs in two batches. When the pan has heated up, carefully place half the meatballs into it and spray the tops with some more low-calorie cooking spray. Fry for 5 minutes before gently turning them and frying for a further 5 minutes. The meatballs will be fragile until cooked through, so try not to touch them for the first 5 minutes as they are most likely to break apart at this point. If it seems like they are sticking, reduce the heat and add a splash of water to the pan. After another minute carefully try again.

When the outside is cooked, the meat will have turned white and the meatballs will be firmer. Once the first batch is ready, place the meatballs in a large roasting dish. Repeat the process with the second batch. When these are cooked, place them in the roasting dish with the first batch and pour over the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and lime juice and season with salt and pepper.

Place the roasting dish in the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes. When the meatballs are ready, any liquid will have reduced, and they will be a darker brown colour and much firmer. (At this point, you could allow the meatballs to cool and freeze in an airtight container for reheating on another day).

Meanwhile, add the ketchup ingredients in a small saucepan, season with salt and pepper and simmer over a medium-low heat for 10 minutes until thickened. Remove the meatballs from the oven and serve with the ketchup for dipping. (The sauce can also be allowed to cool and frozen separately).


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