Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My daughter's favorite meatballs

After my last post, some of my friends gave the recipe a try. I was really happy to hear this. I was hoping my blog would inspire people to enjoy baking, sewing, cooking, and make them less afraid about cooking Japanese food.

Today I will introduce two other recipes. One is my daughter's favorite with meatballs and the other is carrot, snow pea, and dried kelp rice - hang in there for a sec on that one.

Now before I write down my recipe, let me say this, "I love you Trader Joe's." Trader Joe's has a lof of great things I can use for my cooking and one of them is the meatballs. Even I love them!

Of course I would prefer to make my own meatballs because I could mix in a lot of vegetables, yes I'm a sneaky mom, but I haven't had a chance to make them in bulk so for this recipe I use meatballs from TJ's (aka. Trader Joe's). Their meatballs are simple (not an italian kind) without any herbs which is key. I know you probably think I am cheating by using meatballs from TJs. I will promise you next time I will make my own meatballs with a lot of vegetables and post the recipe.

You could just microwave these TJ's meatballs and serve them as is, but you know I like to add touch of love to my cooking so I made my own sauce and here is the recipe.

Sauce for my daughter's favorite meatballs (for 12 meatballs)


  • 3 tbs tomato ketchup
  • 2 tbs mayo
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce

How to make:

  1. Put all the ingredients in the sauce pan and cook until the sugar disolves.
  2. Microwave 12 frozen meatballs for 2 minutes on high and then put them in the sauce (all the fat too).
  3. Cook them together until sauce starts to become more like a glaze. Serve and enjoy.

You can make this in less than 10 minutes! (Even better than Torisoboro!)

My daughter could just eat these meatballs for lunch, but you know I am a mom and I feel I should feed my daughter at least some vegetables. I had snow peas and shredded carrot from TJ's as well so I decided to make this rice dish (pictured below).

I know I lost some of you at dried kelp so let me take a moment to explain. First, kelp is a seaweed and it is healthy source of food. Second, you don't need to fetch your diving gear and jump into the nearest sea bed looking for kelp growing in the wild. It's available in any Japanese grocery store. If you live in Seattle that would be Uwajimaya. To help you out, here is a photo of one such package.

This is a seasoned dried kelp called Fujikko. You can likely find it around seaweed section. In this recipe, I need a seasoned one.

Here is the recipe:

Carrot, snow pea, and dried kelp rice


  • rice (2 rice bowl servings)
  • 1/2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/3 cup sliced snow pea
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp soysauce
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup (loosely packed seasoned dried kelp)

How to make:

  1. Heat a pan at medium heat with 1/2 tbs vegetable oil and cook carrots for 3 minutes.

  2. Add snow peas and pinch of salt. Cook everything together a couple more minutes.

  3. Add sugar, soy sauce and cook until all the liquid evaporates.

  4. Mix warm rice, 1/4 cup of loosely packed seasoned dried kelp, and the carrot mix you just cooked. Serve and enjoy.

From the rice mix we just cooked I made onigiri (rice balls). These are easier to eat for my daughter and lead to less mess overall.

What's in a middle of the photo? It is called Tamagoyaki (fried egg). The ingredients are very simple but making it can be a little tricky. I will introduce its recipe some other time and hopefully include a how-to video (my blog and computer knowledge needs to improve first).

Before I had my daughter, I never bought pre-shredded, diced, or cut vegetables. They are usually $1 or so more expensive and I felt it was a waste to spend the extra money. Now I have to cook three times a day for my child (at least!) and when children want to eat, they need to eat right away! I refuesed to buy prepared vegetables for a long time but my husband has told me many times that time is money and finally I agree with him. I subsequently caved and now buy already shredded, diced, and cut vegetables. I usually go to TJ's to get them.

My experiences with my daughter have convinced me that how you are raised continues to influence you for a long time. When I was a child, I suggested to my mother that already prepared vegetables might make her life easier because it was just a $1 extra. My mother always told me, $1 here and there adds up and can be expensive over time, I can just go home and cut them by myself. This is why I refused to buy them initially and this mindset has stuck with me for a long time.

Even though there is a concept of time is money in Japan, it is not well executed. For example, washing dishes and drying laundry. Most Japanese will hand wash everything and hang laundry outside. My mom used to wake up early so that she could hang her laundry before she went to work. She still does this today.

Japan is a developed nation but I feel that modern conveniences in the home that would make a women's life easier are just not a priority for anyone. I think it is because there are certain expectaions for women to live like their own mothers and this expectation comes especially from husbands. It is great to keep traditions alive but I think it is time for Japan to adopt a more pragmatic American lifestyle.

Vive la dishwasher!


  1. I'm definitely going to have to try this recipe. Zachary refuses most meat, but I think he would like the meatballs prepared in this way. And I can get him to eat just about anything as long as I sprinkle some furikake on it! I even put it on cottage cheese. So I'm sure he'd love the dried kelp rice.

    And I think it's perfectly fine to buy pre-cut vegetables! The time you save is valuable. I also appreciate that you are using such things as TJ's frozen meatballs. It would be hard for me to find time to make meatballs from scratch and that would make me less likely to try your recipe. But since you've made it so easy for me, I have no excuse! Thank you! :)

  2. Vive la dishwasher…and washer and dryer and Roomba! Now if only someone would invent a machine to dust the house!
    Great Post!

  3. I'm so excited to try your meatballs recipe. It is easier then the other I did. I know for sure this will taste better too. I even love the meatballs when you I had a taste of it. Can't wait.I will let you how it turn out.

  4. Georgia,
    Thank you! I know I love all the modern convenience! I used to use Romba too. My dog did not like it. he he he.

  5. Hello Vi,
    Thank you for your comment! It was so cute to see your daughter an my daughter ate dinner together at our house. Yeah please tell me how it goes. I always love to hear other people's experience with my recipe. So when should we make cupcakes together? :) This week I am hoping to bake or make no bake dessert at least once.

  6. Wenmei, Thank you for your comment! It is funny that you sprinkled some Furikake on cottage cheese. :) I should post some Furikake recipes for you someday. My daughter does not eat a lot of meat but she loves this meatball so hopefully Z will like them too. Let me know. I am so happy to hear that my recipe is helping some moms out there cuz I know how hard it is to cook 3 times a day 7 days a week.

  7. You make me so damn hungry every time I check your blog! Mail me your food? :p

  8. Yum! I haven't been to TJ's for such a long time, this will be a good reason for me to check out the store near us. The 10 minutes recipe will come in real handy. Thank you for sharing this!

  9. Taichi, I would send you food if I could. If you live close to us, I would invite you to join us for dinner all the time. :)

  10. Jiale,
    I love TJ. It has a lot of cut and shredded vegetables I could use and I love this meatball. I am glad that I could help my busy friends by sharing my recipe. I will make sure that more will keep coming! I cannot wait to post some of baked goods though. It has been long time since I baked something or made some bread.......

  11. So, made a stop at the grocery store on my way home and got MEATBALLS!! Since my hubby and kids eat ketchup with virtually everything, I knew we'd have some at home. I made the meatballs recipe and I had them with pasta. Very delicious although I may have to "work out" a little harder (there was some guilt which I shoved aside while trying to convince myself that I had a 2.5yrs old's metabolism ) ........... Was a little thrown when I left it for a few minutes and it went from creamy to glaze like. I scooped out the meatballs and mixed them with the pasta and a little glaze...they were good ...My harshest critic was not as into them as I had hoped but then again if it is not chicken and dinosaur-shaped then I'm S.O.L. Watched "Tell Noone" as I ate..Great movie!

  12. Hi Yvonne,

    LOL, I know it is not the healtiest meatball with all the ketchup, mayo, and sugar, but oh well. ;) My daughter is critical when she eats anything new for thr first time. Hopefully your kids will get used to the flavor and will like them eventually. It is great to have it at home and it is nice food to bring for picnic.

    I am glad that you liked the movie. I loved it when I watched it at the theater last year. We watched a movie, "Broken English" and it was cute and funny but not as good as "tell no one".

    Thank you so much for trying and commenting.

  13. had the meatball again tonight, this time with rice and chilli garlic sauce...delicious! They are so versatile!

  14. Hi Yvonne,

    With garlic sauce and rices sounds yummy! I should try them with the sauce for sure. I think I have it in my fridge.

  15. I tried the meatball today, they came out really good! I even spread some excess meatball glaze on hard boil eggs, it was a pretty good combo as well.

  16. Hi Jiale,

    Thank you so much for trying the meatball recipe! I saw that you made green tea cheese cake. I love to see the photo. :) I made it once and it was yummy.

  17. Thanks Ai. I used your sauce recipe to for some turkey meatballs I made. Pat liked the sauce. He was a little skeptical at first, but liked it very much. Thanks again Ai. Please post more, when have a chance. It's fun to cook when they are so easy and yummy! ;D

  18. I tried the rice tonight and it was yummy. I don't think it was perfect, so better luck next time. Pat liked it though. ;D Thanks again. He wants to know what I plan to make next.