It's the weekend again and once more friends will gather at my table. Special friends who accommodated us when we had nowhere to stay. Friends who worked by our side clearing and cleaning the mess that was our house. Friends who packed food into large disposable containers so I would have a break from the kitchen. Friends who offered nothing more than words of comfort and solace when the going was tough.
So I consider my options. I decide to mix it up Asian style. Some Thai, some Malaysian, some Indonesian , some Vietnamese. A harmonious blend of South East Asia on one plate. I labor over rendang. Some grilled fish. Some soba noodles. Crusty pan-fried dumplings with a mint coriander sauce. Fried rice dotted with red peppers. And pork lollipops. Quite delicious and delightful to look at too. The butcher gives me a fatty pork mix, ideal for meatballs. I look for lollipops Asian-style...lemongrass stalks!!! Oh yes! They make perfect meatball skewers when cut and trimmed! And I have a lot of trimming to do. I love the aroma of cut lemongrass. It's lemony, floral, mossy, pungent, an olfactory assault of my senses. Ground pork and spices are well massaged into tiny lime- sized portions. Each ball is cradled around the end of a lemongrass stick. Neatly arranged on sheet pans, they get a turn in a hot oven and emerge golden brown. The warm lollipops are pounced upon by avid tasters. You snooze, you loose.. at least in my kitchen!
Makes 18-20 pieces
1 pound ground Pork
6 cloves Garlic
6 fresh Cilantro roots
10 leaves of Thai Basil
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
2 tablespoons Ketchap Manis
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1teaspoon ground Black pepper
6 to 8 stalks Lemongrass
Cut lemongrass stalks into 4 inch sized pieces. Any extra pieces could be used later in another recipe.
Rinse cilantro roots well.
Chop the garlic and cilantro roots very fine. This could be done by hand or in a food processor.
Slice Thai basil leaves very finely too.
Season with sugar, Ketchap manis, salt and pepper.
Make several lime-sized pork balls.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cup a ball around one end of the lemongrass stick so that the end is completely covered.
Bake for 30 minutes and then flip the lollipops over.
Cook for another 10 minutes.
Serve them hot with sweet chili sauce. Or any sauce you like.
There really is no substitute for cilantro roots. Chinese and Spanish groceries do carry cilantro bunches with some roots attached.
You could use soy sauce in place of Ketchap manis. The taste will vary as Ketchap manis has a wonderful deep flavor. It is available at most Asian grocery stores. I use the ABC brand.
You could grill the lollipops on a gas or charcoal grill. They cook really fast so cooking time would be 3 to 4 minutes on each side. They taste really good with a char.
So I await the Louis family, Keith, Colleen, Elaine, Melanie, Jennifer, Noel, Craig, Leslie and Carole. Yes they are a big family with even bigger hearts. Marylou and Roy Rodrigues who offer love and prayers in our name, come too. My home resounds with thanks and my table is brimming with gratitude.