Have you cooked with tamarind paste before? It’s pretty new to me, since I bought it when I was cooking my way through Paleo Takeout (which has an amazing AIP modification guide here) by The Domestic Man. I’m almost a year late to the game on that book, but we share the same publisher, and when I was at his house during our Vegas book tour stop and saw it on his overly impressive bookshelf (aka every Paleo cookbook you wish you owned or probably do), I said “MINE!”. Well I was more tactful than that. We had two weeks of really amazing Pan-Asian meals from Russ’ book, took a mini break, then I realized I had a few tablespoons of tamarind to use up and some sad looking ground turkey in my fridge (plus all of these other ingredients – yay for no shopping).
Tamarind paste comes from the tamarind fruit, which boasts some impressive antioxidant and phytochemicals in it’s ugly little body. It’s a great source of iron, B-vitamins, and vitamin C too, and it adds a really interesting sour-umami flavor to your dishes. I used in it pretty hefty amounts in this recipe to get a puckery yet sweet and balanced sauce for the balls. Which means more vitamins and antioxidants for you, another “Yay!”
Asian-flavor on the autoimmune protocol may sound difficult to achieve or like a real let down, but it doesn’t have to be! There’s several Asian-inspired recipes in The Healing Kitchen such as Teriyaki Chicken & Fried Rice, Chinese Stir-Fried Lettuce, and Speedy Shanghai Stir Fry! You just have to stock your pantry with a few (really, just a few!) staples to create your own Asian flare meals.
My must-have AIP pantry staples for Asian food are:
When you combine the above with flavors like ginger, garlic, green onions, honey, and molasses, you can create these abundantly rich and nutritious sauces to top meatballs, meatloaf, stir-frys of all types, cauliflower rice, and even roasted broccoli or glazed carrots!
This recipe uses turkey thigh but you could try using an equally fatty cut of ground meat like ground pork, a mixtue of ground pork and beef, or ground chicken thigh too.
Sweet & sour Asian-inspired meatballs pair perfectly with cauliflower rice!
Sweet & Sour Thai Turkey Meatballs
- 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro, loosely packed
- 1/3 cup finely chopped green onion
- 1/4 cup minced shallot
- 1/4 cup mashed white sweet potato (optional)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Zest of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
- 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Red Boat fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 pounds ground turkey thigh
- 1 recipe Sweet & Sour Glaze
- Lime wedges, for serving
- Sweet & Sour Glaze:
- 1/3 cup beef broth
- 1 tablespoons coconut aminos
- 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 2 teaspoons arrowroot starch
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cold water
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the tamarind, aminos, fish sauce, and sea salt until smooth. Stir into the herb and shallot mixture in the large bowl.
- Using your hands, mix the ground turkey with the rest of the ingredients until well combined. Form large 2 ½ tablespoon-sized meatballs with wet hands and place on the lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 18 minutes and let cool before tossing in the Sweet & Sour Glaze. Serve with lime wedges.
Sweet & Sour Glaze
Combine everything except the arrowroot and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a low boil for 1 minute. In a small bowl, whisk together the arrowroot and water to make a thin, smooth paste. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the arrowroot mixture immediately until thickened.
If serving entire batch at once, coat the meatballs in the sauce. If only serving a portion of the batch, coat only the portion you'll be eating during that serving with some of the sauce. This prevents the sauce from soaking into the meatballs when stored. Store the sauce separately in the refrigerator and reheat in a saucepan over low heat until pourable when ready to serve again.