Philippine Meatball Sauté With Peas & Potatoes

Growing up, it means only one thing when this dish is served on the table.  We need to stock up on food!  The freezer is empty and we need to go to the market immediately.   The ground meat is the last of the last that is extracted from the gigantic freezer in my parents' house.   Potatoes last forever so there is always a supply around, just like rice.  Sautéing staples to Philippine cooking are tomatoes, onions & garlic and my Mom's kitchen never ran out of them. The green peas are my personal addition.

Since i was too busy minding everything BUT the kitchen when I was still single and living with my parents, as a result, I really didn't master cooking anything.  This dish was the easiest for me to recreate aside from the pork (or chicken) adobo.   And fortunately, these two are the only Philippine dishes that my kids and husband are crazy about. 

This viand is called pork giniling in the Philippines, which, oddly enough, just means ground pork.  You can actually use 100% pork or also 100% beef but I prefer to mix pork & beef most of the time for a lot of reasons.  For the consistency, for the taste and it renders less fat.  Classically, the meat is not shaped into meatballs.  So if you are going to do the classic way, you can just put the meat straight on the saucepan and skip the meatball process.  I had to make it more interesting because my daughter is becoming extremely difficult to please on the the table.  Mini meatballs are eye candy for the little ones and to my relief, it did generate enough interest for her to eat them.  She and her brother also "stole" all the meatballs you see in the pictures after I finished with my photo shoot and I turned my back.   It was an accomplishment for me. 

This dish goes perfectly well with steamed white rice, like with most Philippine dishes.  When I cook this, I make sure I have some rice to serve on the side too, drizzled with a bit of sauce from the cooking.  Philippine dishes rely on dipping sauces, depending on the food.  This one may or may not need any dipping sauce.  It all depends on how you want it.  At home, my husband doesn't use any dipping sauces, whereas my son and I like to perk up the taste more with a dipping sauce of soy sauce & calamansi (or lemon) juice mixed together.  

Beautiful memories deserve beautiful things.  I found this picture of herb flowers I handpicked  last spring from my archives yesterday.  It jumped out at me and since yesterday was All Souls Day, there's no better time to take it out and dedicate it to the parents I miss so much.  


Philippine Meatball Sauté With Peas & Potatoes

Serves 4
  • 250 g. ground pork 
  • 250 g. ground beef
  • 2 small onions, chopped finely
  • handful of parsley, chopped finely
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon calamansi (calamondin) or lemon juice
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 medium - big tomato (or about 4 cherry tomatoes), chopped coarsely
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped finely
  • 2 medium - big potatoes, diced
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh green peas
  • 1/2 cup water
  1. Note:  If you want the classic dish, skip the process of making the meatballs and go straight to #5.  There's no need to mix anything with the ground meat like what you should do if you are making the meatballs.
  2. In a bowl, mix ground pork & beef, 1 finely chopped onion, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, parsley, 1 teaspoon lemon juice & pepper. 
  3. Prepare the plate where you will be putting the meatballs by drizzling a bit of oil on it and wiping with a paper towel to distribute it evenly and to take away excess.  This is just to avoid the meatballs from sticking to the plate.
  4. With slightly wet palms, roll the meat mixture to small meatballs.  Place the meatballs on the oiled plate.  Repeat until you finish all the meat.  
  5. In a saucepan, sauté garlic, then after a minute, add remaining chopped onion.  When onion changes color, add tomatoes.  Toss for 3 minutes.
  6. Mix in meatballs.  Cook for about 10 minutes until all sides are brown & the meatballs are hard enough to be moved around the saucepan.  
  7. Mix in potatoes.  Toss with the meatballs.  Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. 
  8. Add water & 2 tablespoons soy sauce.   Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  9. Mix in peas.  Season with salt & pepper.   You can also add some more soy sauce if you want.  Add more water if the sauce is drying up.  Sometimes I add more water & soy sauce.  Cook for another 5 minutes or until potatoes are cooked.  
  10. Serve hot with steamed white rice.