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Author Notes: Growing up, these were my favorite meatballs. I would have happily lived off these for all eternity. This is my take on that childhood favorite. I am pairing these incredibly tender meatballs with the subtle sweetness of the subtle sweetness of kabocha squash and the umami of the miso soup. This dish will warm your belly after a long day at work. —Jenny Huang | Hello My Dumpling
Serves approximately 4
for the tofu meatballs
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 1/3 case silken tofu (approx. 6oz)
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 inch nub ginger
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
for the miso soup
- 2 4-inch pieces of kombu
- 3 handfuls of katsuobushi
- 1 handful of dried sardines
- 5 cups cold water
- 1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 medium kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin)
- salt & black pepper
- grapeseed oil
- 5-6 small purple potatoes, cut into large chunks
- 1/2 tablespoon shiro miso/white miso
- 1 tablespoon aka miso/red miso
- 4 large eggs
- scallions, sliced thinly for serving
- Using a Japanese grater or a microplane zester, grate the ginger nub into a small bowl. Then cover it with about 2 tablespoons of hot water, set aside to steep.
- For the dashi stock, rinse the kombu pieces under cold water to get rid of any extraneous salt. In a medium sized pot, rehydrate the kombu in 5 cups of cold water. Allow to sit for about 30 minutes.
- While the kombu is rehydrating, preheat your oven to 400°F. Using a sharp knife, cut the skin off your squash and divide into 1 1/2 inch chunks. Do not cut too small or else they will not hold together well. Lay the squash on a large sheet pan, making sure not to overcrowd. Sprinkle with a few pinches of salt, freshly ground black pepper and grapeseed oil. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, flipping halfway into the cooking time.
- After 30 minutes, set the pot with your kombu and water over high heat. Right before it reaches a boil, remove the kombu pieces. Add the katsuobushi and dried sardines. Bring to a boil, and turn off the heat immediately. Allow to steep for 15 minutes. With a fine mesh strainer, strain the liquid. Use a spoon to press out as much of the liquid as possible. Don't let any go to waste! Reserve the stock
- For the meatballs, combine the pork, salt, white pepper, egg, and scallions into a medium sized mixing bowl. Put the tofu into a separate bowl and use a fork to gently mash the tofu so that only a few small chunky pieces are left over. Add the tofu and the ginger along with its water into your meat mixture. Mix using a large spoon until thoroughly mixed. Your mixture should be mixed to the point where the meat fibers are no longer separated and pronounced.
- Since we are making four poached eggs, we are going to make them ahead of time. Set a medium sized pot filled 3/4 of the way with water to boil. Now gently crack an egg into a small bowl. Using a large metal spoon, stir in one direction until you make a rapid whirlpool. Quickly but carefully slide the raw egg into the water. As the water continues to turn, most of the egg whites should stay together. Cook for 2-3 minutes for a runny yoke. Remove the egg using a slotted spoon and place in an ice water bath to stop the cooking. Do this for the other 3 eggs. Reheat the eggs in warm water before serving.
- Using a medium pot, bring your dashi stock back up to a boil. Add the shiitakes and potatoes, cook for 5-8 minutes over medium-high heat. Then, add your roasted squash. To form the meatballs, take a large metal spoon and scoop up about a tablespoon worth of meat. Wet your left hand so that the meat doesn't stick. Using the metal spoon and a scooping motion, roll the meat into a ball. The meat should stick together easily. Don't overwork. Gently place into the soup. Once all the meatballs are in the pot, bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to medium high. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.
- While the meatballs are cooking, combine the two types of miso in a small bowl. Ladle some of the hot soup in. Use a spoon to work the miso into the liquid, making sure no clumps are left. Turn your stove off. At this point, I like to add about half of the miso liquid initially. Give it a taste. Add more of the miso little by little, until the flavor is perfect.
- Serve immediately topped with a poached egg and scallions.