MEATBALLS WITH SPICY BULGOGI SAUCE, JASMINE RICE, & ROASTED CARROTS

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”  – Luciano Pavarotti

May tends to be an extra hectic time in many households, ours included. As I make preparations to close up the school year my husband John’s training schedule for work tends to pick up. He serves as a drill instructor at the Northern Michigan University Regional Police Academy, and as a K9 Officer, he does a lot of spring presentations (including: career days and senior lock ins at local schools and school safety presentations). 

This spring we are especially busy since we are launching a Non-Profit Corporation: UP K9 Training Group in memory of K9 Nitro who was an explosives detection K9 for the Marquette Police Department. Nitro was more than a working dog. He was an ambassador of goodwill and a friendly face of the MPD. His charm drew the attention of everyone he came into contact with and he was always eager to meet new people.

My husband was K9 Nitro’s handler and when Nitro passed away, the outpouring of support was immense. Condolences came in from all around the UP, across the country, and as far away as Spain. Individuals and organizations offered up financial support to replace their beloved Nitro and there was not a good mechanism in place to accept the support. John felt his K9 community was missing out on much needed resources. Therefore, he is thrilled to honor K9 Nitro’s memory and launch an organization that will support K9 Teams across the entire UP of Michigan. 

The Board of Directors are: John Waldo (President), Tracy Phillips (Treasurer), and Kris Taves (Secretary).  I am jumping in to help with social media. Plans include finding community sponsors, hosting and supporting fundraising events, and having K9 merchandise available for purchase. If you, your company, or organization would like to get involved contact John: jwaldo.upk9@gmail.com or reach out on the Facebook Page. John is excited to have this additional avenue to help serve, and keep safe, the UP community that he loves so much. 

When John first shared his dream of a non-profit with me, my mind started wandering. It sparked my creative impulse as I imagined all of the fundraisers that we could host. Needless, to say, I started filling up a Pinterest board with ideas. Of course, at the top of my list was food that could be prepared for a gathering. So in my mind’s eye, the recipe that I am sharing with you today would be a great crowd pleaser for a fundraiser, or any, dinner. It would make a great appetizer, entree, and you may want to make extra for leftovers. 

The inspiration for this recipe comes from a meal kit that I purchased. Our family often gets into a food rut and meal kits are one way that I have found to help inspire new flavor combinations and choices. The meal kit provided a Bulgogi sauce packet for the meatballs and I enjoyed looking up the Korean origins of Bulgogi. I made my sauce using Gochujang (fermented hot chili paste). You can find it in most multicultural food sections. You could also use chili sauce or your favorite hot sauce. 

Of all the meal kits our family has tried, we keep coming back to this meal as one of our favorites. You can control the spiciness of your sauce by how much chili paste you add and the sauce makes an excellent stir fry sauce. The meatballs get tossed in the Bulgogi sauce and are then drizzled with a cooling sauce that uses cilantro and lime juice (though I also add hot sauce to ours). Cucumbers would be a great addition, and if you do not like cilantro, you could add parsley or dill.

MEATBALLS WITH SPICY BULGOGI SAUCE, JASMINE RICE, & ROASTED CARROTS
*I often double this recipe so we have leftovers

*1 pound ground beef
*3 Tablespoons minced garlic
*2 Tablespoons brown sugar (could also use honey)
*2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
*4 Tablespoons soy sauce
*2 limes (juice and zest)
*3 Tablespoons of finely chopped onion 
*3 Tablespoons green bell pepper (I used a ¼ of a pepper)
*1 Tablespoon of finely chopped ginger root (I tend to go light on the ginger because of my families preference – you can add more depending on your personal taste)
*2 Tablespoons sesame oil
*1 1/2 Tablespoons of Gochujang (or chili sauce or hot sauce. You can add more or less)
*1 egg
*3 Tablespoons bread crumbs
*¼ cup sour cream (could use plain Greek yogurt)
*1//4 cup finely chopped cilantro
*Salt and Pepper

BULGOGI SAUCE
In a bowl, whisk together ½ the garlic, sugar, vinegar, juice of one lime, ½ the onion, ½ the ginger, and the Gochujang sauce. Set aside.

MEATBALLS
Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl mix the ground beef, garlic, onion, bell pepper, ginger, egg, bread crumbs, 2 Tablespoons of the Bulgogi sauce, and a few dashes of salt and pepper. Roll into 1 inch balls (I like the meatballs small, but you can make them larger if you wish). I bake in a cast iron pan for 30-40 minutes.

DRIZZLING SAUCE
While the meatballs are cooking, in a bowl mix together the sour cream, lime juice and zest, ¼ cup of cilantro, hot sauce to taste, a dash of salt and pepper, and 2 Tablespoons of water to thin out (add water a little at a time until it’s a consistency that you like). Set aside.

In a pan, add the Bulgogi sauce and allow it to simmer for 4 minutes (stir so it doesn’t burn). You can add the meatballs to the pan, or spoon the sauce over the meatballs. 

I serve it over jasmine rice and with a side of carrots that I “roast” in the air fryer. You could also serve over rice noodles, or if you are watching your starchy carbs, over a bed of steamed cabbage and vegetables.

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as the Waldos do. Make sure you check out my other recipes on the tabs at the top of the page. Life is busy, but I hope I can help inspire you to prepare fresh and wholesome food. Enjoy spring after a long winter. Take care of yourself – and each other!

I love my cast iron pan!

This sauce is where it’s at!

Drizzling Sauce

The perfect meal.

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