Meatballs with Chinese Celery Over Noodles in Lemongrass Miso Sauce

August 12, 2010
2 Ratings
  • Serves 2 to 4
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 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)

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • LeBec Fin
    LeBec Fin
  • creamtea
  • Sagegreen
  • dymnyno
  • AntoniaJames

Recipe by: AntoniaJames

See problem, solve problem. Ask questions; question answers. Disrupt, with kindness, courtesy and respect. ;o)

24 Reviews

emcsull September 3, 2014
I am looking for a recipe for meatballs I can freeze and then put into soups, do you think these would work ?
AntoniaJames September 3, 2014
Yes, you can! I recommend that you freeze them in broth, as that will help them retain moisture while frozen (a trick from "Fresh From the Freezer," by Michael Roberts, a wonderful resource I discovered years ago). ;o)
emcsull September 3, 2014
thanks so much for the quick answer, I knew I could depend on you !
AntoniaJames September 3, 2014
You're too kind. Thank you. ;o)
Kdrusnak September 12, 2013
Next on the list for "What's for dinner?" Food 52 is our go to site for inspiration! Would love to work for you! Do you need a Biology teacher with duel Biology and Chemistry degrees that cooks from scratch, whole foods, and farmer's markets every single night?
LeBec F. March 22, 2012
aj, you know what i love about this recipe? it is VERY unusual in that it reflects a focus on economic, non wasteful techniques/procedures. It's not a more typical- boil water, boil noodles, dump water..., or sinkful of pots and pans- type scenario.
Putting flavor into noodles the way you do- with both the flavored broth and the method of pre-rinsing the noodles- is so smart . And you don't include icewater baths for the blanched carrots and snow peas (because they're not necessary here!) All in all, i find this whole recipe a very very admirable work so thx for this!

Oh, in the spirit of sharing new discoveries>> Lemongrass freezes really well, in sliced or pureed form, and I just bought a bag of frozen sliced lemongrass at my chinese store. Also, in my Japanese store, i just bought a neat gadget for meatball makers. It is a hand tool- basically a 7" L x 1 1/2" W plastic mini trowel You place your meatball mixture in it, hold it over your broth or oil, and use their paddle to push off pieces to be cooked- boom, boom, boom..... Seemed like it saved a step so i invested a few dollars to try one. I think alot of chefs love hardware stores and gadget stores and the Asian products out there are often amongst the most clever and versatile !

thanks so much again!
creamtea March 8, 2012
omigosh, lemongrass, cilantro, ginger, garlic. What could be bad? Haven't tried Chinese celery yet. This looks so good.
MOMOF2 August 18, 2010
I can't wait to try this! I know my children will love it as will my husband. Thanks for such a great recipe.
Sagegreen August 18, 2010
These look really tender and delectable!
AntoniaJames August 18, 2010
Thanks! They are. The soy sauce in the meat mixture creates the nicest, sweet/salty glaze while they're cooking. ;o)
dymnyno August 14, 2010
I love these flavors!!!
AntoniaJames August 18, 2010
Thank you! So do we. Had a lovely "bowl" with a lemongrass, miso and coconut milk broth at Dragonfly in Ashland a few weeks ago, which of course had me experimenting with just lemongrass + miso, the day we returned. My new favorite Asian-flavors veggie stock now has lemongrass front and center. The key to this dish, of course, is not to put the miso in until after you've turned off the heat, for good. ;o)
AntoniaJames August 13, 2010
Also, here's a hint about fresh noodles: it helps to rinse them well in cold water, if they are covered in flour (or anything else) to prevent them from sticking together, before cooking, especially when cooking them in a flavored broth. You end up with a bit less starch in the cooking liquid, but more flavor in the noodles. ;o)
AntoniaJames August 13, 2010
Ooops, I just noticed that in my haste to meet the 9 PM PDT Thursday deadline, I typed in the ingredients list a "1/2 piece of garlic" in the line for the ginger. That should actually be a 1/2 inch piece of ginger. And if your ginger if thick, you really don't need quite that big a piece.
lapadia August 13, 2010
Yum, and your picture tells it all!
AntoniaJames August 13, 2010
Thanks so much!
aargersi August 13, 2010
I want these for breakfast please. Yum.
AntoniaJames August 13, 2010
You're so nice. Thank you! Come over tomorrow, and I'll make them for breakfast! ;o)
aargersi August 13, 2010
** jumping on a plane ** On my way! I wish :-)
healthierkitchen August 13, 2010
This looks right up our alley! Will try soon. We love the fresh noodles as well as the Chinese celery around here.
monkeymom August 12, 2010
Yum AJ!
AntoniaJames August 13, 2010
Glad you think so! ;o)
gingerroot August 12, 2010
Yum! I love that you use the remaining tough stalk of the lemongrass for the broth. I have to find a local Chinese celery source but I am definitely saving and will be making soon. Thanks for the recipe!
SallyCan August 12, 2010
Looks delicious!