Growing up in suburban Australia as part a Hungarian migrant family was certainly interesting when compared to the households my friends lived in. The cultural differences were significant, perhaps most remarkably when it came to the food we ate. While my bestie was eating takeaway foods such as Chinese fried rice (on Thursday nights), barbecued chicken and chips (on Friday nights) and home made hot-buttered toast on Saturday nights (because her mum was out and about), I was enjoying my mum's home made Töltött paprika (capsicums stuffed with pork mince and rice), Töltött káposzta (cabbage rolls stuffed with pork mince), and Fasírt (rissoles made from pork and veal mince).
My mother was a particularly clever cook, who loved nothing more than being in the kitchen. She knew how to prepare hearty and nourishing meals from very little, therefore rissoles, meatballs and other mince-based dishes have been on the menu (and my repertoire) throughout my life.
One of my favourite scenes in the 1997 Australian movie, The Castle, is when the oh-so-Ocker Kerrigan family are seated at the dinner table and Darryl Kerrigan, the 'Dad' played by Michael Caton, asks his wife, Sal, played by Anne Tenney, about the 'delicious' meal she has cooked for him. 'What do you call these, darl, they're delicious.' he says (from memory). Sal is delightfully chuffed and responds: 'They're rissoles, everybody knows that'. With her nasal Aussie accent, she pronounces them as 'rissiles'. I love it! Her husband responds with complimentary words to the effect that they're not just ordinary rissoles, it's what she's done with them that makes them so good. What a great bloke!
In my humble opinion, rissiles, or rissoles if you will, are not to be sniffed at. They can be homely and simple, or juzzed into fabulous finger food, such as these Thai-inspired pork and chicken rissoles or meatballs. I've created this recipe by adding a few new and interesting flavours to my the basic Fasírt (rissole) recipe my mother taught me all those decades ago. To some quality pork and chicken mince, you add some coriander, chilli, a little fish sauce and desiccated coconut. The rissoles are bound together with rice crumbs, which also makes them gluten free. Let me know what you think.
You can serve them to the family, with vegetables on the side. For parties, place them onto ceramic soup spoons with your favourite Asian dipping sauce. The last time I made them it was for just my Peter and I and there were plenty of cooked ones leftover. So the following day I tossed them into my cast iron sauteuse with thickly sliced mushrooms, baby spinach leaves, slices of Spanish onion and red bell pepper, some tiny home grown chat potatoes and green beans. Less than 15 minutes later, we had a delicious and healthy meal cooked in the one pan.
THAI PORK AND CHICKEN RISSOLES (MEATBALLS)
500g pork mince
500g chicken mince
1 French eschalot or small Spanish onion, very finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon coriander leaves, chopped
1 bird's eye chilli, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fish sauce*
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
a dash of ground white pepper
2/3 cup (perhaps more) rice crumbs
Combine all of the ingredients, except the rice crumbs and coconut, in a large Pyrex bowl and mix them together with a wooden spatula. Add the ground rice and coconut. With (clean) hands, work the ground rice and coconut into the mince combination. Pop the bowl into the fridge and allow the rissole mixture to 'rest' for about 10-15 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C. Now, roll the meat mixture into small (4cm) rissoles or meatballs. Place each rissole or meatball onto an ovenproof tray lined with baking paper, leaving space in between. Bake the rissoles for about 30-40 minutes, turning once, until they are golden brown and cooked through. Makes around 30 rissoles or meatballs.
* For gluten free, please check the label on your fish sauce.
Tell me dear readers, how did your home life compare to that experienced by your friends? Did you notice any cultural differences? And do you like rissoles or meatballs? Do please tell.
And thank you for taking the time to pop in and comment. It means a great deal to me and I do love hearing from you!
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.