By Catherine Newman
Makes: 4 servings
Total carbohydrates: 2 grams per serving
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
The Asian seasoning of these meatballs makes them taste like the inside of a dumpling—which means they’re a huge hit with most of the kids we know. And the crumbled tofu subs in for bread crumbs here, keeping the meatballs moist and held together in a protein-rich, carb-poor way. If you don’t want a half package of tofu kicking around in your fridge, consider doubling the recipe—the meatballs keep for a few days, and reheat well, and the fact that they’re baked instead of fried means no messy stovetop. One more thing—you can add water chestnuts for crunch, if you like: 1 (8-ounce) can drained and finely chopped (this will add 16 grams of carbs to the total recipe, or around 4 per serving).
7 ounces/198 grams extra-firm tofu (this is half of a typical 14-ounce tub)
¾ pound/340 grams ground pork (or ground turkey)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon/15 ml vegetable oil (only if you’re using turkey)
1 tablespoon/15 ml toasted sesame oil
3 scallions, finely slivered
2 teaspoons/6 grams finely grated or minced ginger
2 tablespoons/10 ml soy sauce
½ teaspoon/1.5 grams kosher salt (or ¼ teaspoon/0.75 grams table salt)
Soy sauce and unseasoned rice vinegar, for serving
1. Heat the oven to 425°F/218 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Press and squeeze the tofu in a clean dish towel, then lay the dish towel flat and use your hands to crumble the tofu onto the dish towel, then squeeze it some more to get most of the moisture out it.
3. Put the squeezed, crumbled tofu in a mixing bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients and use your hands to gently mix everything together. This is not hard, but it takes a bit of time and patience, since it will seem at first like it won’t want to blend, but then slowly you will see the color getting more homogenous until – poof! – it’s mixed. (You can microwave a tiny bit of the mixture and taste it to see if it needs more salt or ginger or anything before you go to all the trouble of making the meatballs.)
4. Scoop up tablespoon-sized balls of the mixture (I use my cookie batter scoop for this), roll them into balls, and place them on the baking sheet. You should make around 20-24 balls, but this does not need to be an exact science.
5. Bake until the balls are deeply browning and cooked through (cut one open to check, if you like), around 20-25 minutes.
6. Serve with a dipping sauce made of equal parts soy sauce and rice vinegar – 2 tablespoons/30 ml of each is a good amount for this many meatballs.