Szechuan Braised Meatballs

Szechuan Braised Meatballs

9 Reviews
From: EatingWell Magazine, January/February 2008

We braise these spicy beef meatballs and Chinese cabbage in a bit of beef broth. Make it a meal: Ladle over brown rice or noodles with steamed broccoli and carrots on the side.

Ingredients 1 serving

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  • 1 pound 93%-lean ground beef
  • 1 5- to 6-ounce can water chestnuts, rinsed and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch, divided
  • ½ teaspoon five-spice powder, (see Shopping Tip)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
  • ¼ cup Szechuan sauce, (see Shopping Tip)
  • 4 cups shredded napa (Chinese) cabbage
  • 1 15-ounce can straw mushrooms, rinsed
  • 2 scallions, sliced (optional)


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  • Ready In

  1. Gently mix beef, water chestnuts, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, five-spice powder and salt in a medium bowl until combined. Shape the mixture into 12 balls (use about 2 tablespoons each to make 1½-inch meatballs). Whisk broth and the remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet or nonstick wok over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning once, until brown, about 3 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the pan. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds. Add the reserved broth mixture, Szechuan sauce, cabbage and mushrooms; cook, stirring, until the cabbage is just wilted, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer, return the meatballs to the pan, cover and cook until the sauce is thickened and the meatballs are cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve sprinkled with scallions (if using).
  • Shopping Tip: Find five-spice powder in the spice section and Szechuan sauce near other Asian condiments in most supermarkets.

Nutrition information

  • Per serving: 186 calories; 8 g fat(2 g sat); 3 g fiber; 13 g carbohydrates; 16 g protein; 42 mcg folate; 37 mg cholesterol; 3 g sugars; 817 IU vitamin A; 12 mg vitamin C; 30 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 823 mg sodium; 331 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (20% daily value)
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 1
  • Exchanges: 2 vegetable, 3 lean meat, 1 fat

Reviews 9

November 20, 2014
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By: EatingWell User
Meatballs were like golfballs While other reviewers focused on the sauce, I felt the meatballs left a lot to be desired. There is nothing in them to create a tender texture, no egg or bread crumbs, so the result is a dense ball of meat. As for the sauce, it was way too vinegar-y; I ended up adding some ketchup to try to mitigate the acid bite. Won't be making this again. Pros: none I can think of Cons: Too much time for a mediocre result
May 07, 2012
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By: EatingWell User
DELISH! These were excellent! I made my own sodium free Szechaun Sauce and left the salt out entirely, you will never miss the sodium. Why pay for take-out when you can make your own? Very tasty - a keeper.
March 28, 2012
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By: EatingWell User
I made this recipe out of the 500-Calorie Dinner Cookbook, and my husband and I both loved it! We served it with whole wheat linguine and steamed broccoli. The flavor of the sauce and the meatballs were both excellent. I did add some extra red pepper flakes to kick up the spice.
March 19, 2012
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By: EatingWell User
OOoooo, really great! Per the other reviews, I doubled the Chinese Five Spice powder in the meatballs, added a salt-free Szechwan spice blend I found to the meat. I doubled the garlic and added 1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger root in the sauce....I served it over brown rice and it was friggin' AWESOME!!! I used extra-lean ground sirloin and the flavor was incredible! Pros: Easy, delicious, low-cal Cons: Basic recipe needed tweaking...
December 27, 2011
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By: EatingWell User
Delicious This was delicious! I used turkey instead of beef on the suggestion of another reviewer, and I doubled the amount of 5-spice powder in the recipe, and the meatballs turned out spicy but not too hot (for me, at least, my husband thought they were too spicy for him). I sliced the cabbage into strips instead of shredding it. Pros: Flavorful, easy
October 18, 2011
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By: noreciperequired
Looks Great Love this idea...I generally just make Italian meatballs which I love - but I'm always looking for new twists. Definitely going to try these.
May 05, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
I really like this recipe. I have made them with both ground beef and ground turkey. I like them better with turkey because the beef seems to overshadow the flavors of the seasonings, cabbage, and mushrooms. The Szechuan sauce and crushed red peppers makes the meatballs very spicy.
February 22, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
I like this recipe, but I think I would make a few changes. I had all the ingredients, but the meatballs were VERY bland in my opinion. The five spice powder is not enough, they need some finely chopped onion, garlic and some red pepper flakes perhaps?
January 22, 2010
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By: mhardt2115
I considered this recipie mediocre. One of the ingredients it called for is "Szechuan sauce" which I could not find in my supermarket. (and this is a large supermarket) so I improvised and made a sauce with garlic, fresh ginger, sesame oil,rice vinegar and soy sauce. The cabbage and sauce was flavorful but the meatballs were quite bland.
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