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Pork meatballs with chilli dipping sauce

Diana Henry / 11 February 2016

Tender pork meatballs browned to perfection and served with a luscious chilli dipping sauce.

Pork meatballs with chilli dipping sauce
Pork meatballs with chilli dipping sauce

Cooking time

20 minutes




For the chilli sauce

  • 6 large fresh red chilli, 3 of them seeded, coarsely chopped
  • 2cm (¾in) square piece fresh ginger root, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • Grated zest of 3 limes, and juice of 2
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 1 large bunch of coriander, leaves only
  • 200g (7oz) caster sugar
  • 50ml (1¾ fl oz) Thai fish sauce
  • 115ml (4 fl oz) white wine vinegar

For the meatballs

  • 500g (1lb) minced pork
  • 125g (4½ oz) bacon, very finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2cm (¾in) square piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 1 fresh red chilli, seeded and chopped
  • Grated zest of ½ lime and 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Groundnut oil for frying


These are as good tossed with noodles and bought hoisin sauce as they are eaten with the chilli sauce below.

The recipe makes more chilli sauce than you need, actually, but I can never see the point in making a small amount. It keeps in the fridge for months and is great for pepping up lots of things (pork chops and roast chicken in particular).

First make the chilli sauce. Put the chillis, ginger, lime zest and juice, garlic and coriander into a food processor and purée into a rough paste. 

Put the sugar into a pan with 6 tbsp water and place over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat slowly and gradually boil until the syrup becomes a caramel colour (you’ll know when you get there by the smell and the colour, but don’t let it burn). 

Quickly stir in the chilli paste, fish sauce, and vinegar – it will spit a bit when you add these so stand well back – then simmer for 2 minutes. Leave to cool.

Mix everything for the meatballs together in a bowl, using your hands (having wet hands makes it easier as the meat doesn’t stick to your skin). 

Season really well. Pull off chunks of the mixture and form into balls about the size of a walnut. 

It’s better to chill these before cooking them, otherwise they can fall apart, so lay them on a baking sheet, cover with cling film and put in the fridge for an hour or so.

Heat about 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan and cook the pork balls, colouring them all over on the outside, then turning the heat down a little and allowing them to cook through. 

It takes about 5-6 minutes, but do check you are frying them long enough for the pork in the middle to cook (the meat should no longer be pink).

Serve with the chilli sauce and eat with plain boiled rice and stir-fried greens.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.