Meatballs with Chinese Celery Over Noodles in Lemongrass Miso Sauce

By • August 12, 2010 26 Comments

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Author Notes: In recent weeks, I’ve been using a lot of Chinese celery, thanks to healthierkitchen and thirschfeld, whose fabulous recipes featuring it have utterly converted me to this wonderful stuff. It just happens that the place where I buy it in Chinatown also sells nice fresh noodles, so I created this dish using both. The meat marinates in a soy, herb, and garlic mixture while you cook a light stock using the parts of the lemongrass not used in the meatballs, and a few other ingredients, which is then used to cook the noodles. A touch of miso gives the sauce a bit of depth. Enjoy!!AntoniaJames

Food52 Review: Overall these noodles were tasty but I wasn't really wowed. But it smelled delicious, and with a few tweaks, I would serve it again!

Note: I couldn't find Chinese celery anywhere and Chinatown for me is a 3 hour trip, so I used the center and more tender leaves of regular celery and avoided the stalks. I also used gluten-free, reduce sodium Tamari. Carrots were 3.5 OZ after jullienned; Garlic 1 Tbsp.
The Editors

Serves 2 to 4

  • 2 pieces lemongrass
  • 4 scallions, green tops only
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Chinese celery, divided, plus 1/2 cup coarsely chopped stems (for the stock)
  • 3 cloves garlic, 2 crushed and 1 minced
  • One 1/2-inch slice ginger
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey (dark meat)
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas or snow peas, sliced diagonally in half
  • 1 pound fresh thin lo mein noodles (or dried noodles, if you can’t get fresh)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut or other vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 tablespoon white miso (see note below)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
  1. Cut off the hard root ends of the lemongrass and finely chop the innermost portion, discarding the tough outer layers and using only the most tender pieces close to where you cut off the end. You should have about 1 tablespoon of chopped lemongrass.
  2. Coarsely chop what remains of the lemongrass. Put it in a stock pot with the scallions, coarsely chopped Chinese celery stems, crushed garlic, slice of ginger, and about 6 cups of water. Over medium heat, bring the mixture just to a boil, then turn it down to an active simmer, i.e., not quite a boil. Let it simmer, partially covered, while you marinate the meat.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the finely chopped lemongrass with 2 tablespoons of the finely chopped Chinese celery, 1 tablespoon of the chopped cilantro, the minced ginger, the minced garlic, the soy sauce, and the mirin. Stir well.
  4. Gently pull the pork and turkey apart into small pieces and drop the pieces, a few at a time, into the bowl, using a fork carefully to combine the meat with the herb and soy marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  5. Strain the stock, discard the solids, and transfer the stock to a large glass measuring cup. Return the stock to the soup pot with the heat on medium-high. When the stock boils, blanche the carrots for two minutes, then add the snap peas for another minute. Promptly remove the vegetables from the stock with a slotted spoon.
  6. Cook the noodles in the stock according to the instructions on the package but for about a minute less than suggested and adding only as much water as is necessary to equal the amount recommended for cooking. Reserve about 2 cups of the cooking liquid to use in the sauce. Drain the noodles, rinsing briefly with cold water to keep them from sticking together. (I typically start this step while the meatballs are browning.)
  7. When ready to cook the meatballs, form the meat into balls about the size of walnuts, and put them on a plate next to the stove. It helps to keep your hands wet while shaping the meatballs.
  8. Heat a a very large skillet (one that you have a lid for), then add the oil. It will get hot very quickly. As soon as it starts to shimmer, add the meatballs and cook them for a few minutes, then turn them over and brown them on the other sides, for a total of about 5 or 6 minutes. Pour a cup of the reserved lemongrass stock (the noodle cooking liquid) in the pan and put the lid on. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes.
  9. Push the meatballs to one side. Stir the miso and the remaining reserved stock into the sauce that’s in the pan and mix to combine. (See note below.) Add more of the reserved stock if you want a bit more sauce.
  10. Add the noodles and the blanched vegetables; use tongs or chopsticks to toss it all together. Sprinkle on the remaining 2 tablespoons of chopped Chinese celery and cilantro and the sesame seeds, and gently toss again.
  11. Serve in large flat bowls, arranging the meatballs on top, with plenty of cold Chinese beer to wash it down.
  12. Enjoy!! ;o)
  13. Note: Start by adding a teaspoon of miso, then taste. If you want more, add it gradually. The recipe calls for 1 tablespoon, but that's for people who really like miso. It's always possible to add more, but not to subtract, so do add it gradually, to taste. ;o)

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