This recipe for Thai Turkey Meatballs with Coconut Lemongrass Sauce, created by chef and friend, MaryAnn Delaney instantly transports me to sunny Thailand with its fragrant aromas and fresh ingredients. The meatballs, made with ground turkey – are not only healthy, they are incredibly flavorful, seasoned with lemongrass, ginger, and shallots. The meatballs are simmered in a Coconut Lemongrass Sauce, infused with star anise, cardamon, and coriander that will make you want to lick the bowl. Fresh lime and cilantro finish the dish giving it a beautiful brightness that I crave in wintertime. Serve these as an appetizer, or with rice for dinner, or over a bowl of rice noodles, mopping up the delicious sauce.
Those of you who know MaryAnn, will agree when I say that she is genuinely one of the most thoughtful humans I have ever known. Her peaceful, gentle way blesses those around her, without her even being aware of it. Her deep and soulful spirit, reminds me often, that we too have a wellspring of wisdom and insight that we can dip into if we choose to. I feel honored to be able to witness her journey through this world …and share a little of her here.
Some of you may know her from her former restaurant, Junebugs Cafe located in the Perry District in Spokane. Or from the South Perry Farmers Market where she managed it and nurtured it into the thriving vibrant market it is today. Currently she teaches private cooking classes, offers catering and personal chef services. To find out more about her classes, catering and personal chef services, please contact her here at MaryAnnDelaney.com.
OK, back to these gorgeous meatballs. Like every good recipe, it starts with fresh, whole ingredients.
Chop the shallots and in a skillet, saute them until tender. Add garlic and chopped lemongrass.
Add fresh ginger and fish sauce and red chili paste.
Add fresh cilantro and bread crumbs.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, and with wet hands form turkey meatballs.
This recipe makes about 18 two inch meatballs.
When the meatballs are browned, add bruised lemon grass stocks and ginger to the same pan.
Crush cardamom, star anise and add to the pan.
Add the cinnamon stick, turmeric, ginger pieces, coriander seeds, coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
- 1.5 lb package ground turkey
- 1 Tbls olive or peanut oil
- ⅓ cup chopped shallots
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 stalk of lemon grass white part only chopped fine
- 1.5 Tbls grated ginger
- 1 Tbls Shoyu soy sauce
- 2 Tbls good quality fish sauce
- 1.5 tsp Sambal Oelek chili paste
- ½ Cup panko breadcrumbs (can also substitute gluten free breadcrumbs)
- 3 Tbs chopped cilantro
- 1 tsp salt
- a little pepper
- Coconut Sauce:
- 2 Tbs olive or peanut oil
- 2 stalks of lemon grass, trimmed
- 3 cardamom pods lightly cracked
- 3” cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1.5 inch piece of ginger root, peeled and cut into 3 pieces
- 1.5 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 points of a star anise pod
- 1 14.5 oz can of coconut milk with full cream
- 1 cup chicken stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- juice from ½ of a lime
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and lemon grass and cook for one minute longer. Take the pan off of the heat and set aside so that the shallot mixture can cool down a little.
- Transfer the ground turkey to a bowl and create a well in the center of the ground turkey. Add the ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, chili paste, bread crumbs, cilantro and salt and pepper along with the reserved shallot mixture to the well. Mix with your hands or a spoon until just combined. Dampen your hands and shape the mixture into meatballs. This will make 18 to 20 2” meatballs.
- Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate for about an hour. This step will give the flavors time to meld and help the meatballs stay together while you cook them.Heat the remaining 2 Tbs of oil over medium-high in a large skillet. When the pan is hot add the meatballs and brown on all sides.
- Bruise the lemon grass with a mortar and pestle and add to the skillet. Give the cardamom pods a light tap with the pestle and if you don’t have one you can use the back of a knife. Add the cinnamon stick, turmeric, ginger pieces, coriander seeds, star anise points, coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
- Slowly add the chicken stock and simmer the meatballs over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes. Add the fresh squeezed lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with lime zest and cilantro. You can enjoy as an appetizer, or turn it into a meal and serve over rice or rice noodles.