We love noodles or its equivalent. Spaghetti is one of them and recently we fell in love with Vermicelli which is the thinnest version of spaghetti. Some brands call it 'Angels Hair'. This recipe was inspired by Jane Lawson's book (Yoshoku). In this book she cooks western food with a twist of Japanese influence.....magic. We love her recipes and we enjoyed a lot of food from there.
700 g pork mince or chicken mince (about 100g per person)
2 spring onions diced
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 stick celery diced
2 tbs sake (white wine or 1 tbs dry sherry will do as well)
2 tbs soya sauce
1/2 – 1 cup Japanese breadcrumbs (or ordinary breadcrumbs will do)
Dash of Ground white pepper
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 small onion finely diced
1 small red chilli, seeded and finely diced
2 garlic clove
1 tbs finely grated ginger and its juice
2 tbs mirin (omit if not available)
1/2 cup red wine
800g (or 2x400g) whole peeled tomatoes
1/4 can of water use to rinse the cans.
1 tbs tomato paste
1 tsp dashi granules (or use chicken stock to substitute)
1 tbs soya sauce
1 tbs rock sugar (ordinary sugar will do as well)
1 bay leave
Vermicelli (Diamond Brand or similar) or spaghetti : 100gm per person.
3 tbs finely chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish
2 tbs thyme leaves only for garnish (if not available, some spring onions will do)
Shaved parmesan cheese to garnish : heaps if you like or omit if not.
To make the meatballs, mix the meat and all the ingredients except the celery, onions and spring onions. With a fork, mix the meat in one direction until it is well combined and the meat gels together and become sticky. Then fold in the vegetables. Celery makes the meatball light and crunchy but if you do not like celery, then omit it. Fold in bread crumbs after that and let it rest for a while before forming balls with the help of a measuring spoon (1 Tbs measuring spoon is about the right size). You can roast the balls in the oven set at 200C after basting with oil and lining the tray with baking paper for 20 minutes or you can shallow fry the balls at medium high heat till brown. We prefer to fry the balls but it is a bit messy and a slow process but somehow the balls are crispy. The oven is easy, probably healthier with less oil used, just put it in and set the timer. While that is going on, make the sauce.
Put 1 tbs of vegetable oil in a sauce pan and at medium high heat, saute the onions for about 1 minute till the onion is soft. Then add ginger, garlic and saute for another 1/2 min and then add in the whole peeled tomatoes and other ingredients. Bring to boil and lower heat to low to simmer for about 20 minutes. Then use a potato masher to mash the tomatoes. You can use crushed tomatoes but they usually come with skin and I do not like the skin. The sauce will thicken as it simmers. Add the cooked meatballs into the sauce and heat through for about 1 minute.
Fill a large pot with plenty of water, at least half full and bring to boil. Add 1 tbs vegetable oil and 1 tsp salt. Cook the vermicelli for about 5 minutes till al dente. When you break the vermicelli it is still a little white in the middle. Remove from pot and run under cold water for a few seconds and drain.
To serve, you can reheat the vermicelli in the pot or in a microwave, pour some meat balls and sauce on top of it and then garnish with parsley, thyme and parmesan cheese. I prefer to heat a fry pan with a dash of veg oil, put in the vermicelli, the sauce and meatballs and toss till combined. Only takes a minute and not to overcook the vermicelli. I like the sauce combined well with the vermicelli.