Noodles that achieve a balanced protein to vegetable to carb ratio are elusive. Even with the best intentions, we all know that the noodles are the best part and if you could take everything else out, you probably would. Adding spiralled butternut squash to cooked rice noodles means you get the continual satisfaction of noodles without noticing that vegetables are corrupting the dish.
The meatballs can also be served on their own and are a tried and tested pot luck winner. Plus the strong flavours ensure they reheat exceptionally well, ideal for taking to work the next day.
For the meatballs
Note: before you make the meatballs, it’s best to cook the rice noodles and set aside to cool.
- Pork mince (200g approx)
- Breadcrumbs (2 Tbsp)
- Grated ginger (1 tsp)
- Chopped chives or finely chopped spring onions (1 tbsp)
- Onion powder (1/2 tsp)
- Sesame oil (1/2 tsp)
Mix everything together, taking time to ensure that all the ingredients are fully combined. You will see the difference when the meat starts to come together, it is less wet and obviously starts to bind together. This helps the meatballs to stay together when you fry them, without the need for an egg. I have been told that this helps the proteins stick together. You can use this technique when making burger patties also. Now roll into small meatballs, about the size of a ping pong ball.
Heat oil in the pan and fry the meatballs. Take care when you turn them. When they are cooked through, remove from the pan leaving any bits that have remained behind. These tasty bits will all be incorporated into the sauce.
For the sauce
- Hoisin sauce (2 Tbsp)
- Soy sauce (1 Tbsp)
- Sesame oil (1/2 tsp)
- Grated ginger, small amount (in absence of fresh ginger, use powdered ginger here)
- Onion powder (sprinkle)
- Chicken stock cube (1/3)
- Water (1/3 glass)
- Sesame seeds
In a bowl, mix together the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil and onion powder. Set aside.
In the pan where you cooked the meatballs, turn the heat to medium and crumble in the chicken stock cube. Stir this around and then add the water. Scrape around the pan to incorporate all the meatball remnants and chicken stock to form a gravy-like sauce. Pour the hoisin mix into the pan, add the cooked meatballs then stir to coat them in the sauce. Pour over some sesame seeds.
For the noodles and butternut squash
Whatever noodles you use, cook to packet instructions then drain in a colander and run them under cold water to stop them sticking. Tossing a small amount of sesame oil through too will also help this, plus give a tasty flavour.
You should time the rest of this step to be completed at the same that that the meatballs are finished.
Heat a frying pan and add the spiralled butternut squash. Don’t add salt, basically you are trying to keep the long strands dry so they can be stirred through the rice noodles to become one combined noodle mix. Salt will draw out the moisture and make everything wet. Once they are hot, tip the cooked rice noodles in, turn the heat down and warm everything together.
Place the noodle / butternut squash mix on a plate, then top with some of the meatballs, making sure you spoon some of the sauce over too. Garnish with black sesame seeds and coriander. Good with some broccoli on the side if you wish.
Serving suggestion: works well in the lunchbox!