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Japanese-style chicken breast meatballs (Tsukune)

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Japanese-style chicken breast meatballs (Tsukune)
around a dozen meatballs Medium
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Ingredients (10)

  • 4 each chicken breasts, skinless (around 1.5 pounds)
  • 1 each scallion, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 strip of cooked bacon, minced (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil
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A derivative of the more typical preparation, which utilizes thighs (skin included), this recipe infuses simple, delicious Japanese flavors into the popular but bland breast. Traditionally requiring wooden paddles to both cook and serve on, this maintains all the versatility of most ground meat dishes (sliders are delightful). In this case meatballs are featured. Accompany with soy sauce, soft poached egg, or Japanese chili pepper (nanami togarashi) mayo.


  1. 1

    OPTIONAL: Pan fry the bacon until just crispy. Do not over cook. Allow to cool and mince.

  2. 2Mince the ginger, garlic, and scallion.

  3. 3Add ginger, garlic, and scallion to a mixing bowl. Combine it with the bacon, mirin, sugar, soy sauce and salt. (The bacon fat can be added for flavor if desired).

  4. 4Wash and thoroughly dry the chicken breasts.

  5. 5Coarsely grind the chicken breasts using a meat grinder. This can be done with a food processor or by knife, but do not over-grind.

  6. 6Mix the ground chicken with the rest of the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least six hours, or up to a day.

  7. 7Form the mixture in to ping pong ball-sized balls. Makes around a dozen.

  8. 8Heat the canola oil in a sauté or cast iron pan over medium-high heat.

  9. 9Brown all “sides” of the meatball. When completely browned either use a thermometer to or slice one open to test for doneness. If not done, either place in a 350-degree oven, or add a couple tablespoons of water to the pan and cover until finished.

  10. 10Can be plated with small skewers or toothpicks. Serve with soy sauce, soft poached egg, or Japanese chili pepper (nanami togarashi) mayo.
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