For these Japanese chicken and tofu meatballs I was inspired by Youtube channel Imamu room . On her youtube channel Imamu shares videos of cooking her family meals each week, including the bento lunches for her husband (husbento). These chicken meatballs are made with ground chicken and tofu. She uses a mixture of ground meat and tofu in several of her dishes. I’m guessing it’s similar to using breadcrumbs and egg or milk to create juicy meatballs.
I have made these chicken meatballs with tofu a number of times with ground chicken from different supermarkets. I found that using ground chicken from chicken thighs had the most flavourful result.
- Cutting board
- Chef’s knife
- Fine grater
- Heavy-bottomed pan for frying, cast iron Dutch oven
- Large bowl
- Plate with paper towel
How to eat Japanese chicken meatballs?
You can serve these chicken meatballs for dinner with rice or as a snack for lunch. I finish the meatballs with spring onions, Japanese kewpie mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce, but you can also use tonkatsu sauce, teriyaki sauce, barbecue sauce or hot sauce.
We ate the chicken meatballs with inari, Japanese tofu bags filled with sushi rice, nori flakes, sesame seeds, corn, scrambled eggs and peas.
Can you prepare this dish in advance?
You can prepare the chicken tofu meatballs well in advance. Once cooled, you can store them airtight in the fridge or freezer. Reheat in the microwave or a warm oven.
Tips for frying
I use a cast iron Dutch oven with a layer of oil. You can use an oil thermometer, but often the level of oil I use is too low. I usually fry these kinds of dishes by feel. The oil is hot enough when you stick a wooden skewer in the oil and bubbles start to form.
Don’t set the heat too high. You can always turn up the heat slightly if it takes too long to fry. Getting the oil to cool down takes up a lot more time.
Never drop food from a great distance into the oil. This will make the oil splash onto your hand giving you nasty burns. Always carefully lower food into the oil. You can use a spoon, chopsticks or tongs depending on the kind of food you wish to fry.
More Japanese dishes
- Zucchini fritters
- Karaage burger
- Sesame beef with lettuce on rice
- Tori katsu
- Chicken teriyaki
20-30 Japanese chicken and tofu meatballs
- 600-700g ground chicken, preferably thigh meat
- 300-350g tofu
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, grated or crushed
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
- 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
- 4 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise, Kewpie
- Salt and pepper
- 6 tbsp potato starch
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
- 3-4 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise, Kewpie
- 3-4 tbsp okonomiyaki sauce or sauce of your choice, see notes below
- 2 spring onions, in rings
- Optional: 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Making the chicken tofu meatballs
Drain the tofu, wrap in paper towel and place a heavy object on top to remove excess moisture from the tofu. Leave to press for 20 minutes and pat dry.
Take a large bowl, add 700 grams of ground chicken together with the pressed tofu, 1 finely chopped onion, 2 cloves of grated garlic, 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger, 1.5 tablespoons of soy sauce, 4 tablespoons of Japanese mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste. Crumble the tofu and mix everything together. Finally, add 6 tablespoons of potato starch and mix thoroughly.
Fill a heavy bottomed pan (like a Dutch oven) with vegetable oil about 2 inches high . Place on medium-high heat and let it preheat well.
Dip a bamboo chopstick into the oil. If bubbles form around the chopstick the oil is hot enough. You want the temperature around 170C or 340F.
Take a lightly heaped tablespoon of minced meat mixture and shape it into a ball. Use a spoon to carefully lower the meatball into the oil. Repeat with the rest of the meat, but don't overcrowd the pan. Fry the meatballs in several batches.
Deep-fry the meatballs for about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to turn them over occasionally. Remove the meatballs from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Check for doneness just to be sure.
Place the Japanese chicken and tofu meatballs on a plate and finish with Japanese mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce and spring onions. Serve with rice or have them as a snack.
For homemade okonomiyaki sauce mix the following ingredients:
- 4 tbs ketchup
- 2 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce, Lee Kum Kee vegetarian stir-fry sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp the maple syrup
Instead of okonomiyaki sauce you can try tonkatsu sauce, teriyaki sauce, barbecue sauce or various hot sauces.
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