On a Stick! and a recipe for Chinese Meatballs

Here’s the thing: It’s fun to eat with your hands, and Matt Armendariz has figured this out. In his new book On a Stick! it seems that every food you may think of is fair game for skewering. It might be simple:  Crudité Skewers with Latin Green Goddess Dressing or Caprese Sticks with Mozzarella, Basil and Tomatoes. It might be more complex: Deep Fried Ravioli or Spaghetti and Meatballs anyone? Or perhaps you are craving something sweet. How about Frozen Bananas Dipped in Chocolate or Strawberry Shortcake? Yes, that’s right – all on a stick.

On a Stick! puts the fun in food, taking ordinary and exotic recipes and sticking it to them, so to speak, along with an assortment of dipping sauces – because, after all, dipping a stick in a sauce, dressing, salsa or chutney is half the fun of eating food on skewers.  If you would like to enjoy a little simple pleasure, if you need to entice your kids to eat their veggies, or if you wish to invite your 20 closest friends to a party, you will appreciate this book.  There’s something in it for everyone, and fun doesn’t get more tasty than this.

For my first recipe, I tried the Chinese Meatballs, which are a spicy, savory concoction of ground turkey, cilantro and spices. Fragrant with ginger and garlic, these addictive little morsels are served with a sweet and sour chili sauce. I pan fried them rather than deep fried them before dutifully skewering with bamboo sticks. And you know what? They really do taste better on a stick.

Chinese Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Chili Sauce
Makes about 12 meatballs

3/4 pound lean ground pork or turkey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons peeled and minced ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 bunch cilantro, minced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl with your hands to thoroughly combine. Form into 12 small even balls. Heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Add the meatballs in one layer without overcrowding. Cook, turning, until browned on all sides. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Repeat with remaining meatballs. Skewer with toothpicks or bamboo sticks. Serve with Sweet and Sour Chili Sauce.

Sweet and Sour Chili Sauce

1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons minced lemon grass
1/2 bunch mint, minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon seeded and minced red jalapeño
1 teaspoon peeled and minced ginger

Stir vinegar, sugar and lemongrass in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until sugar dissolves and liquid reduces by one-third. Strain into a bowl and cool completely. Stir in mint, cilantro, garlic, red jalapeño and ginger. Serve warm or at room temperature, alongside the meatballs.

Recipe reprinted with permission from On a Stick! Written and photographed by Matt Armendariz. Published by Quirk Books.

Full disclosure: I received a free copy of On a Stick! from Quirk Books.

20 thoughts on “On a Stick! and a recipe for Chinese Meatballs

  1. Doesn’t the saying go “everything is better on a stick” or something like that. You’ve now got me thinking about strawberry shortcake on a stick. Yum! These Chinese meatballs look great! They’d make a fun appetizer for a bbq or outdoor party.

  2. I love Matt and have been dying to take a peek at his new book, thanks for the first glance. Your dish, as usual, is impeccable. – S

  3. These look tastier than the Chinese “meat”balls you can find at Asian grocery stores. We have Chinese neighbours who bbq the meatballs on skewers and glaze with honey. Very simple.

  4. What a fun concept for a cookbook! Very inventive and fun. I’m sure the recipes would be perfect for dinner parties to impress your guests. Strawberry shortcake on a stick? You can definitely count me in!

  5. I love how this sounds: spicy, savory concoction of ground turkey, cilantro and spices… I gotta make this.

  6. These look great and I love recipes for nibblies this time of year. When temperatures rise it’s nice to have some options for reduced portions. The herbs and spice choices are wonderful – cinnamon, lemon grass, cilantro… all heavenly! Thanks.

  7. This is so beautiful! I love this version and now I must make it (and pan frying is a whole heck of a lot easier, too!) Beautiful beautiful photo!

  8. These look great. Not enough people use ground pork :)! I very much like the asian slant, sounds like a great party dish.

  9. Those meatballs look awesome and I totally want to throw a party just to have an excuse to make about a million of them.
    Your food photography is awesome, by the way.

  10. Another beautiful recipe from you.I love the pro way you style your food.I just wanna pick up that skewer & indulge 🙂

  11. Just made this for the family (um, well, subbing Chinese 5 spice for the cinnamon, but otherwise the same) and it was a massive hit, even with the picky 5-year-old. Thank you!

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