A meatball for your thoughts

This Thai-inspired green curry meatball sub is not nearly as green as the name implies.

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Read Time: 4 minutes

I made meatball subs. But not your normal Italian meatball sub. These are green curry meatball subs, but the meatballs are also not green. We’ve already discussed this color issue ^^ up there.

Also, these aren’t banh mi. Yeah, ok, they sort of look like banh mi and are banh mi adjacent, but a banh mi is from Vietnam and these meatballs and sauce are more inspired by curry recipes from Thailand. Both countries do serve green curry, but from my tiny bit of knowledge, it seems that Vietnamese curry is typically thinner than Thai curry. With this recipe I wanted the green coconut curry to be thicker in consistency so that it coats the inside of the bread and sticks to the meatballs.

This sandwich isn’t traditional, it’s just a tasty sandwich that I have made and enjoy and thought others might be interested in.

I made these particular meatballs with pork, but I have made the same meatball and sauce recipe with ground turkey, and it works great that way too. The turkey meatballs will be a little bit leaner, but the flavor from the sauce keeps the two meat options similar in flavor. If you are choosing turkey, I would suggest you don’t buy the 1% fat version. See if you can get something with 7% fat or even more, so that they aren’t too lean.

Let’s make some sandwiches. First, as always, we need some bread.

The sub sandwich bread

For the bread, I used my French-ish sandwich bread recipe. I’ve used it and written about it in my banh mi post and my French dip post. This bread has a great chew and slightly crunchy crust that works great with the tender pork meatballs. The thicker curry soaks into the bread a little bit and everything starts to meld together like magic.

The type of bread plays a big part in this sandwich so if you’re not going to bake your own, make sure you find a good French-style roll that fits the criteria.

The chewiness of this bread plays a massive part in what makes this sandwich work.

Here’s my French-style sandwich bread recipe.

3 hours and 30 minutes
French-style sandwich rolls

An overnight starter sets these French-style bread rolls to be extra flavorful. A hot water bath in the oven provides a hearty crunch to the crust, while leaving a soft interior perfect for sandwiching.

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The quick pickle

This is quick-pickled carrot and serrano peppers.

I already told you that I treated this sandwich very similarly to how I made banh mi and this quick pickle of the carrots and peppers is no different.

I did not use daikon radish in this instance, but you certainly could. In one of the sandwiches, I did add a few raw, thinly sliced red bell pepper.

Basically, I made thin “matchsticks” of carrot and very thinly sliced serrano peppers and added them to a bowl with a pinch of sugar, salt, and a couple of tablespoons of rice wine vinegar.

The full measurements for these quick pickled veggies are in the full recipe below.

Thai inspired pork meatballs

These meatballs are baked in the oven and finished in green curry sauce. I cooked the first batch of pork for about 16 minutes and the most recent batch that I made with ground turkey was almost done in the oven at 18 minutes. The meatballs can finish cooking in the sauce, so if they are five or ten degrees shy of done in the oven, you can either bake them a bit longer or trust that they will come up to temp in the sauce. If you’re worried, just make sure you cook them the full 20 minutes in the oven and then transfer to the sauce and they will be done.

Adding the seasonings to the pork.
I usually shoot for about 2 inches in diameter for this recipe.

Green coconut curry sauce

This is the brand of green curry paste I most recently used, but there are a lot of different options.

This is a super easy sauce to make, and you can get it prepared in a jiffy if you can find green curry paste at your local grocery.

From what I can tell from the stores near me, this is a very common grocery store ingredient. You can definitely buy some green curry paste online if you can’t find it near you.

The other main ingredient we’re dealing with in this sauce is a can of coconut milk.

My recipe calls for thinly sliced rings of spicy peppers in this sauce as well. You can skip those if you don’t like heat. The green curry pastes that I have purchased and used before don’t typically have much in the way of heat and even if they did, the coconut milk tempers a lot of heat that might exist. So, if you’re scared of spicy food, don’t be afraid of making this recipe. Just skip the hot peppers or cut the amounts way down.

Simmer the meatballs in the sauce

As I wrote earlier, move these meatballs directly from the oven into the sauce while it starts to thicken.

Add the meatballs into the sauce and let them simmer while the sauce thickens.
These meatballs will not get much browning on them because of the cooking method. But they will hold together and be very tender in the end.

Green curry meatball sub sandwich recipe

Here’s my final recipe for these meatball subs. Keep scrolling for more photos of other green curry meatball subs I have eaten.

Green curry meatball sub sandwiches view printable page for this recipe

These tender, savory meatballs slathered in a green curry coconut sauce on a chewy French bread roll make for a super sandwich experience. You can use ground pork or ground turkey in this recipe.

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by Jonathan Surratt

Ingredients:

Quick pickled veggies
  • 1 carrot, sliced like matchsticks
  • 12 red bell pepper, sliced like matchsticks (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 12 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 12 Thai, bird's eye or Serrano peppers, sliced into rings (optional - save the other half for garnishing the sandwich or adding to the sauce)
Meatballs and green curry sauce
  • 1.5 pounds ground pork
  • 12 cup crackers, crushed (about 12 Ritz brand crackers)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, grated
  • 1 to 2 Thai, bird's eye or Serrano peppers, diced and seeds removed
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons scallions (just the white/light green parts - but save the green parts for garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons green curry paste
  • 1 can of coconut milk (13.5 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon Thai, bird's eye or Serrano peppers sliced into rings
Green curry meatball sandwich assembly
  • 1 French sandwich bread loaf
  • cilantro, chopped (garnish)
  • 3 or 4 meatballs per sandwich (from above)
  • pickled carrots and peppers

Directions:

Make a quick pickle: slice carrots and red bell pepper (if using) into matchsticks and your peppers into thin rings. Add vinegar, salt, and sugar into a small bowl and stir very well to combine. Add carrots, bell pepper, and pepper rings and toss in the vinegar mixture. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week. 

Form meatballs: In a large bowl, add ground pork, crackers, garlic, ginger, diced peppers, cilantro, scallions, lime juice, and fish sauce. Using your hands, combine all of the ingredients into a consistent meat mixture. 

Pull off 2 or 3 tablespoons of the meat and roll it into balls with about a 2-inch diameter. This is all easiest done with your hands. Add the balls to a sheet tray or baking dish. Continue shaping meatballs until you've used all the meat.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (218 C).

Bake meatballs for 18 to 20 minutes. 

Start the sauce: After the meatballs have been in the oven for 5 minutes, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet. Once the olive oil is shimmering add 3 tablespoons of green curry paste. Cook for 2 minutes stirring occasionally. 

Add the can of coconut milk to the pan with the green curry paste. Cook the sauce at a low simmer for 10 minutes or until the meatballs are done. 

When the meatballs have been in the oven for 18 to 20 minutes, remove them and add each meatball one by one into the simmering sauce. 

Cook sauce with the meatballs for another five minutes or until the sauce has thickened.

Make the sandwich: slice a French bread roll halfway through and open it up like a book. If the roll gives resistance and feels like it might break in half, toast it briefly first and it will soften up. 

Add one or two spoonfuls of sauce to the inside of the bread roll. This moistening step is crucial for making the sandwich juicy and flavorful.

Select 3 or 4 meatballs and snuggle them inside the split bread roll. Add more sauce if desired. 

Add several of your quick pickled carrots and peppers. Add cilantro leaves as garnish if desired. 

Serve the sandwich and enjoy. 

Banh mi adjacent is a good place to be.
This one just had cilantro leaves and a few chopped cashews. I really missed the texture of the carrots and the bite from the rice wine vinegar.
The best part about this sandwich is the green curry sauce dripping down into the chewy bread and those two parts of the sandwich becoming friends before you eat them.
The pickled veggies really go a long way to making sure each bite has crunch and tangy pickled flavor. If your peppers are spicy it will add a lot of flavor as well.
These sandwiches are juicy but not messy. Better get an extra napkin just in case.

Make more meatballs

These meatballs and sauce are great scooped over rice or prepared in a chewy French bread roll. Give the recipe a shot and see for yourself.

Check back next week when I share some more meat inside buns!


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