These Green Curry Chicken Meatballs with Broad Rice Noodles maybe my new/old favorite. I say “New” because this dish as it exists in this post is fresh from my noggin. And I say “old” because I’ve been eating my weight in green curry ever since I tried it many moons ago. My hometown of Halifax was a little late to the Thai food game, so when it did show up, I made up for lost time. My go-to order was the same as any basic bitch out there: mango salad, pad thai, and green curry.Jump to Recipe
Now, I don’t know why I initially gravitated towards green curry. I certainly have a fondness for the red and yellow varieties. But since day one, green has been number one in my heart. And I have no good reason why. Perhaps it’s the eggplant that always seems to find it’s way into takeout-green-curry. This is incidentally my favorite way to enjoy eggplant. And green curry was the dish that brought me back to the eggplant fold after an unfortunately timed baba gonoush binge that was followed by an unrelated stomach flu. But enough about the past, let’s talk about these Green Curry Chicken Meatballs.
There a few things I love in this world more than meatballs. I considered them to be the perfect food. And I know I hand out that title a lot. Like a lot, a lot. But when it comes to meatballs, I really mean it…I also really meant it about all the other stuff. I don’t know. Can’t there be a cornucopia of perfection? I suppose the “The” will have to removed from the title.
Anyway, the point is I think meatballs are one of my many of this world’s perfect foods. It doesn’t matter what’s in ‘em or what meat’s involved, if it’s a ball, I’ll eat it…that came out wrong. Heck! A meatball doesn’t even have to have meat. Falafel ranks highly on my list of favorite foods and they’re essentially chickpea tahini meatballs.
I’m not entirely sure why I hold meatballs in such high regard. I, of course, know they are considered to be a somewhat lowly dinnertime item. One step up from a meatloaf, which incidentally, is technically a giant meatball in loaf-form.
I could blame nostalgia for my fixation. Spaghetti and meatballs are after all the childhood classic you can wear and eat. But I don’t think it’s the squalling infant within that’s to blame for this preoccupation. No, I think it’s the meatball’s superior ability to carry flavor.
When you really think about it, a steak has one fundamental flaw: you can only season the outside. Yes, I know you can dry brine the crap out of a T-bone and the salt will season the meat throughout. But you can’t very well, mash a clove of garlic into a steak. Well, I suppose you can, but that would be steak tartare.
Meatballs allow for all sorts of seasoning possibilities. Take these Green Curry Chicken Meatballs, for example. These puppies are studded with water chestnuts, garlic, and scallions and seasoned with fish sauce and palm sugar. Can you do that to steak without marinating it for a donkey’s age? And the endless adaptability of the meatball’s seasoning makes it capable of crossing borders. Well, not literally but you know what I mean. It seems every cuisine in the world loves a good meatball, whether it be Middle Eastern, Asian or, of course, Italian.
Now, I tried to keep the ingredient list for these Green Curry Chicken Meatballs relatively accessible. The only item on this list that may give you a little trouble is the kaffir lime leaves. You can, of course, skip them altogether and add a little lime zest to mimic the citrusy, floral flavor of the leaves. But having made many middling at-home green curries without the leaves, I know all too well how valuable an ingredient they are. Don’t get me wrong, if you don’t have them you will still have a truly righteous weeknight meal. But if you can get your mitts on them, you’re in for something bordering on restaurant quality. Also, don’t bother with the dried leaves, they just don’t work. Fresh or frozen is absolutely the way to go.
Another ingredient you should take note of is the green curry paste. Now, I’m fairly certain I have used nearly every green curry paste under the sun and they are most certainly not created equal. The best I have found is Maesri Thai Green Curry Paste and if you’ve managed to locate kaffir lime leaves, chances are you’ll find this paste in the same shop a few isles down.
So, that’s the skinny on these Green Curry Chicken Meatballs with Broad Rice Noodles. Comforting, soul-restoring and just a bit indulgent. Don’t be surprised if these bowls work their way into your weekly rotation.
Green Curry Chicken Meatballs with Broad Rice Noodles
- 454g (1 lb) ground chicken
- 5 scallions sliced, divided
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup water chestnuts minced
- 2 tbsp green curry paste divided
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar) divided
- 1 tsp toasted rice powder
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- fresh ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp canola oil divided
- 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine
- 2 Chinese Eggplants quartered and coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 can coconut milk
- 8-10 kaffir lime leaves torn
- 1 cup bamboo shoots drained
- 170g (6 oz) shimeji mushrooms separated from the base
- 454g (1 lb) broad rice noodles
- 1/4 cup Thai basil tightly packed
- 1 lime cut into wedges
- Place the ground chicken, the white part of the scallions, garlic, water chestnuts, and egg in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of the curry paste, 1 tablespoon of the palm sugar, toasted rice powder, cornstarch, and fresh ground pepper to the bowl. With a clean hand, toss to integrate until a cohesive mixture forms.
- Wet your hands with water and form the chicken mixture into 16 evenly sized meatballs. Use a heaping tablespoon as a guide. Set the meatballs aside
- Place the eggplant pieces, cut-side-up, on a piece of paper towel. Sprinkle with the salt and set aside.
- Pour 2 tablespoons of the canola oil into a large deep skillet. Place over medium heat and heat until shimmering. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the chicken meatballs. Don't crowd the pan. You may have to work in batches. Brown the meatballs on both sides and transfer to a plate. Set aside.
- Add the wine to the skillet and deglaze the pan. Add the eggplant to the pan, cut-side-down, and cook until caramelized and tender. Transfer the eggplant to a plate and set aside.
- Pour the remaining canola oil into the pan and heat until shimmering. Add the remaining curry paste (or more if you like it spicy) and saute until bubbling and fragrant. Pour in the coconut milk and bring up to a boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes until the oil from coconut milk separates and pools on the surface. Reduce the heat to low.
- Fill the coconut milk can with water and give it a swish. Add the water to the skillet along with the kaffir limes leaves, bamboo shoots, meatballs, eggplant, shimeji mushrooms, and the remaining palm sugar. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through.
- While the curry is simmering, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook for 5 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse the noodles with water. Set aside.
- Take the curry off of the heat and taste. Depending on how salty your curry paste is you may or may not have to add the remaining tbsp of the fish sauce.
- Divide the noodles amongst four bowls. Spoon the curry over the noodles, adding 3-4 meatballs to each bowl. Garnish with Thai basil leaves, lime wedges and the sliced green sections of the scallions. Serve immediately with a cold Thai beer.