Meatballs in all of their various forms were first seen in cookbooks during Roman times. The Roman author Apicius dedicated an entire book of his ten book cookbook series to using minced meats that are the basis for meatballs. Even so meatballs are found in all cultures, and Polynesian meatballs are not a traditional Polynesian food per se.
These meatballs are inspired by the foods that are common to traditional Polynesian cooking. Polynesians use lots of chicken, pig, coconut and pineapple in their day-to-day diets. They have always grown and collected numerous plants that were native to places they explored for food provisions, including tubers, fruits and greens, to go with the abundant wildlife native to the islands.
This recipe combines some traditional Polynesian flavors to create succulent meatballs, and are suitable for those on gluten free diets. It is topped with a Hawaiian-inspired teriyaki sauce common in modern Polynesian cooking.
Makes about 48 meatballs, approximately 8 servings
2/3 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 cup drained, crushed pineapple (reserve the liquid)
1/4 cup minced onion
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 inch minced piece of ginger
1/4 fresh, chopped coriander
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
2 tablespoons coconut oil or other fat
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground chicken
Fat for greasing pans
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup reserved pineapple juice
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 crushed pineapple
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 inch minced ginger
2 chopped green onions
In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut flour, eggs, salt, peppers, ground turmeric, pineapple, garlic, onion, ginger, coriander, liquid smoke, and soy sauce until well combined. Add chicken, pork and coconut oil. Mix until thoroughly combined using hands or heavy spatula. If the mixture is loose, add additional coconut flour.
Grease two 9” x 13” pans.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Form balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Place them in the pans so that there is about 1 inch between each meatball, evenly dividing the meatballs between the two greased pans.
Bake 20 minutes in preheated oven or until cooked through. Turn the meatballs over once about half way through. When done they will be slightly browned, and the internal temperature will reach 160°F.
While the meatballs are baking, in a heavy bottomed sauce pan, whisk together cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce and pineapple juice until smooth. Mix in the remaining sauce ingredients. Place on the stove over medium-high heat. Stir continuously, and heat until it comes to a boil and thickens.
Remove the sauce from the heat and set aside until meatballs are ready.
Place meatballs hot out of the oven into a serving dish, and toss with sauce. They can also be kept warm in a crock pot, to serve them at a potluck or in a buffet line. Serve on a platter with toothpicks or on bamboo skewers if using them as an appetizer.
To round out the Polynesian-inspired meal, try baked sweet potatoes topped with toasted macadamia nuts, or serve Japanese sweet rice. For a vegetable side choose from a salad of fresh greens and tomatoes, steamed sweet potato greens, or sauteed fiddleheads. For dessert serve a fruit salad of papaya, mango, banana, bread fruit, and pineapple.