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Chinese-American Thanksgiving Meatballs

Photo: Jennifer Causey
Active time 20 mins
Total time 3 hrs, 40 mins

Serves 6 (serving size: 4 meatballs and about 1/2 cup sauce)

This dish isn’t traditional to anyone, but was inspired by Lam’s parents’ refusal to eat roast turkey, and the time they halted his Thanksgiving protest by bribing him with spaghetti and meatballs. It’s based on a classic Chinese dumpling filling, made instead into meatballs and poached in a gingery tomato sauce. The technique of mixing the meat until just tacky gives it that characteristic pot-sticker-filling bounciness. The tender, saucy meatballs pair wonderfully with white or brown rice.


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 1/2 cups shiitake mushroom caps, cut into 1/2-in. pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped green onions, divided
  • 7 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 1/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons minced peeled ginger
  • 1 (28-oz.) can unsalted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water

Nutrition Information

  • calories 390
  • fat 28 g
  • satfat 6.2 g
  • monofat 14.8 g
  • polyfat 5.3 g
  • protein 23 g
  • carbohydrate 13 g
  • fiber 2 g
  • cholesterol 79 mg
  • iron 2 mg
  • sodium 566 mg
  • calcium 67 mg
  • sugars 3 g
  • Est. Added Sugars 3 g

How to Make It

  1. Heat canola oil in a large skillet over high. When oil shimmers, spread mushrooms evenly in pan. Cook until browned, about 1 minute. Stir mushrooms; spread evenly. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in 1/8 teaspoon salt. Place mixture in a bowl; cool 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup green onions and 3 minced garlic cloves.

  2. Combine stock, oyster sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Gently combine turkey and pork in a large bowl. Add stock mixture. Using your hands, gently mix just until liquid is absorbed and mixture is sticky. Gently fold in mushroom mixture. Cover and chill up to 4 hours.

  3. Heat olive oil over high in a large Dutch oven until you see wisps of smoke. Add remaining 4 minced garlic cloves; cook, stirring constantly, 15 seconds. Add ginger; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add 3/4 cup green onions; cook, stirring constantly, 15 seconds. Add tomatoes; bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low; stir in remaining 3/8 teaspoon salt. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.

  4. Using your hands, gently shape turkey mixture into about 24 (1 1/2-inch) meatballs. Add meatballs to tomato sauce in an even layer. Adjust heat, if necessary, to ensure sauce is barely simmering. Cover and simmer until meatballs are just cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a serving platter; cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

  5. Whisk together cornstarch and 1 tablespoon cold water in a small bowl. Add to tomato sauce; cook, whisking constantly, until sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Pour tomato sauce over meatballs. Garnish with remaining green onions.