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Crew Meals: Caramel five spice meatballs

Ivy Dai 150

This was a recipe inspired by my old deckhand Tom. It's a twist on comfort food that excites yet soothes the body.

Also a great way to use leftovers - make another meal out of those odds and ends of meat and veggies in the fridge.

(Serves 4)



Fried rice:

3 tbsp vegetable oil                                                    
4 eggs beaten
3 cloves of minced fresh garlic
Half an onion chopped
6 cups day old white rice (sticky short grain works best)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup sweet sausage, chopped
1/4 cup Sriracha or sambal oelek chili garlic sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 stalks sliced green onion (or spring onion)
Salt and pepper to taste

ivy meatball 3



1 cup stale bread or breadcrumbs                                                             
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
2 lbs ground meat (half beef half pork or veal) 
Half an onion chopped
1 clove garlic minced
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 cup white sugar
1 tbsp white or rice vinegar
1/2 cup sake, white cooking wine or water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp five spice powder

 ivy meatball 2





Set your oven to broil at 220 degrees C or 430 degrees F.  In a small bowl, combine stale bread and milk. Set aside. Chop onions and garlic. In a large bowl, combine ground meat egg, onions garlic and sesame oil. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper then foil and place meatballs. Cook in oven until browned and cooked through. 

Meanwhile, in a wide frying pan, combine sugar, white wine and vinegar. Once syrup reduces and starts to brown slightly, add soy sauce and five spice powder. Be careful not to touch sauce directly with fingers - the caramel sauce can reach 300 degrees F. Make sure to not let the sauce burn!

Swirl the pan every few minutes to distribute browning evenly. When sauce has thickened and coats the back of a spoon, add meatballs and toss to coat.

While waiting for sauce to brown, use this time to chop your meat, vegetables and green onions for the rice.

In a large frying pan with sides or a wok, heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil on medium heat. Add eggs and scramble, remove from pan and set aside. Add 2 tbsp more oil then add garlic and onion. Sauté on medium heat until fragrant. Add rice and stir to heat through. Add meat and vegetables, soy sauce sesame oil and hot sauce sauce. If rice is dry, add more vegetable oil or sesame oil. Take off heat, add green onion and serve with meatballs. 

Ivy meatball recipe one


Instead of white rice, try brown rice, quinoa or even pasta. Most hearty starches makes a great variation.
Use cilantro or parsley instead of green onion
Use any precooked chopped veggies (carrots, broccoli, zucchini etc) in place of peas
Use chopped ham, chicken or other meat instead of sausage


Chef Ivy Dai trained in France and at the Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles. Dai appeared on Food Network's “Cupcake Wars," and is also the founder of Dragon Dinners, cooking classes for home cooks.

The California native found her passion for cooking at the age of 12, when she took a home economics class and began baking for friends and family. She worked for the Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton hotels in LA, and was cooking and teaching in Paris before falling into yachting. Before cheffing, she was a producer at ABC News and a full-time food writer. She enjoys bringing an Asian flair to Mediterranean cuisine. For more Med-inspired recipes, visit her blog at:

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