I knew I was going to love these because I am a huge fan of meatballs and anything barbecue-style Korean, and I was right! If you don’t soak the fresh ginger in one tablespoon of vinegar for five minutes to deactivate its enzymes, your meatballs will become soggy. You can also add the ginger to the sauce.
Mushy is Not Tender: Korean Barbecue-Style Meatballs When it comes to cooking, a tragic failure is the best teacher. This is how I learned not to use too much raw ginger in a meat marinade. I don’t remember exactly when I learned about this problem, but it was probably when I watched pieces of meat mysteriously break up into mushy shards that fell through the grill’s grates and died a disappointing, fiery death.
Yes, this is what happens when you cook meat with too much raw ginger and let it sit for a while. You will never forget it. until you get it. I’ll blame the “fog of war” that occurs during a video shoot as usual, but I never imagined that the ginger I was mincing would cause trouble. Additionally, if I hadn’t been in such a hurry, it would have been much more trouble. The mixture was going to sit in the fridge for hours, and if I had done so, I don’t know what I would have eaten for dinner—probably not Korean barbecue-style meatballs.
I’ll leave the specifics of why and how ginger enzymes dissolve protein to Google. I already covered how to avoid this problem by deactivating ginger with heat or acid in the video, so I won’t go into that again here. Instead, I’ll wrap things up by praising how good these were. They have a lot of sweetness, a lot of spice, and a little salt, but they are also very savory and filling. These make a truly outstanding meal when served over plain rice to fully absorb the flavors. I sincerely hope you give it a try as soon as possible. Enjoy!
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 teaspoons gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (heated to 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius) to deactivate enzymes, or soaked in 1 tablespoon vinegar for 5 minutes)
- 4 finely minced cloves of garlic
- 13 cup thinly sliced green onions
- plus more for garnish
- 12 cup finely
For the Finish:
- 4 minced cloves of garlic
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup beef broth or water
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon gochujang, or Korean hot pepper paste
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- Gochujang should be evenly distributed over the surface of the ground beef in a bowl. Kosher salt, pepper, and soy sauce are used to evenly season. You will need less time to handle the meat if you spread the seasoning out. Over the surface, distribute the fresh ginger and garlic evenly. Cracker crumbs and green onions are added. Using a fork, quickly mix in until well combined.
- Refrigerate for about 30 minutes with the lid on.
- The oven should be heated to 450 degrees Celsius.
- Using damp hands, form the mixture into 12 balls of equal size. Add to a pan made of cast iron.
- Meatballs should be baked for about 20 minutes in an oven that has been preheated.
- While the sauce is being prepared in the same skillet, transfer the meatballs to a plate.
- Set the skillet on the stove over medium-high heat and drain most of the grease, leaving behind 1 teaspoon. Stir in the garlic for about one minute to make it fragrant. Combine soy sauce and rice vinegar to deglaze the skillet. Add the beef broth, gochujang, and brown sugar. Add Sriracha and sesame oil to season. Sauce should be stirred and simmered. Cook until one-third reduced.
- Meanwhile, to make a slurry, combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Mix in the slurry while constantly whisking while lowering the heat to medium-low. Sauce should be simmered until it has roughly half been reduced. Baste the meatballs with the sauce after they are returned to the skillet. Allow to simmer, generously basting, for three to five minutes or until meatballs are heated through and thoroughly coated with sauce.
- Green onions and toasted sesame seeds can be used as a garnish.
The Cook’s Notes:
Kay Chun developed this recipe, which was published in NY Times Cooking.
In place of fresh ginger in the meatball mixture, fresh ginger can be added to the sauce.
As long as raw ginger has been deactivated or omitted, the meatballs can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator without resting before being formed and browned.