Isn’t it strange that a Filipino term for a Meatball is a soup bowl served with Chinese Vermicelli (a Misua)? I’ve asked a couple of my friends about Filipino meatballs and their basic and maybe only recollection of one is the popular ‘Misua.’ I had more or less the same reflection about Misua growing-up, and being served a meatball soup (in a bowl) as a starter. Sometimes, these meatballs were eaten together with steamed rice and vegetables, and the Chinese Vermicelli with soup slurped with gusto and taken as the starter. It’s an interesting food pair, but definitely of Filipino or Filipino-Chinese descent. Despite its oriental connotation, the term for the dish is definitely Spanish. I feel that’s the dish’s heritage. It’s Philippine history expressed on a bowl of soup (again, never soups, please), and just maybe, because of the need in those desperate era and times when the Spaniards were way above and beyond the food chain and were in command of the islands, a new ‘meatball’ dish was reborn in the process.
Anyway, I extremely enjoyed preparing this dish. It’s a dish dating and going back from the Moors (as stated in the recipe) with ingredients like Cinnamon, Cumin and Nutmeg rolled and added with the ball and the sauce. It is also considered as another kind of Tapas. Somehow, Albondigas crept through the Islands through Spain’s colonization of the Philippines.
I kept and stuck to the tradition of using Tomato Sauce for this blog, but before even doing that version, I’ve already prepared another using wine or in wine sauce last year when I had fresh parsley on hand. Both were stand-out and star dishes. I will present Albondigas in Tomato Sauce first. I’ll start the other as soon as something comes up on top of my head that annoys me days on end and needs to be written down. It usually begins and ends that way when I write my blog (check my intro).
I must warn the readers though. This tomato sauce isn’t close to the Italian or Italian-American’s sour Tomato/Marinara Sauces nor the sweet and tangy Filipino Spaghetti/Tomato Sauce. I would have taken these Albondigas with a glass of wine, but I already had my share for the New Year’s and I’ve already made a pact to myself to drink on an occasional basis only.
- Ground Pork
- Garlic, minced
- Onion, minced
- Eggs (beaten)
- French Loaf (soaked in water)
- Olive oil
- Ground Black Pepper & Sea Salt
- Crushed Canned Tomatoes (I used Italian)
Combine the ground pork with garlic, onion, soaked French bread, beaten egg, cinnamon, cumin, ground black pepper and sea salt. Form the ground pork into bite-size balls and roll into seasoned flour.
Pan-fry each meatball in olive oil until golden brown. Transfer in a baking dish and finish them off in a low-medium pre-heated oven.
Saute onion and garlic in the same pan (Add more olive oil if necessary). Add the crushed tomatoes, honey and cinnamon and season further to taste. Allow the sauce to simmer for a few minutes or have started to reduce and thicken.
Remove the meatballs from the oven and transfer back into the pan with the sauce and serve in small plates.
I learned from Culinary School to soak the bread in milk or other milk products. The French loaf was a leftover from the holidays, and a French bread itself has enough butter to add more flavor into the meatball.
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