Asian Turkey Meatballs

You guys are all seeing the Internet hoopla about “The Dress” aren’t you?

For those that aren’t, you should so you can join in on the conversation. Here ya go: check it out.

See? Now, let’s say it all together. What colors is the dress?


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Wait, what?! I know some of you guys aren’t like Jas and ACTUALLY see white and gold? What’s the matter with you? The Dress is blue and black; blue and black, I tell you!

This actually sparked a debate in my house last night; me and Ashley stand by the assertion that the dress is blue and black. Jas and my mom are convinced it’s white and gold. We were split right down the middle. I just couldn’t see it. I didn’t understand. It was a mystery.

But apparently the whole thing boils down to the ability of the cones in our eye retinas to mix and process colors through out brains. The people that see blue and black have cones that are better able to do this; people that see white and gold have cones that are…different.

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(Ha ha Jas.)

But in all fairness, since last night I have taken another couple looks at the picture (this is all Β over social media by now so it’s kind of impossible not to) and I will admit: if I try really, really, REALLY hard…then I can see the dress as white and gold. It’s like mentally flicking a light switch on in my brain and literally ‘forcing’ myself to see white and gold. It only lasts for a few seconds, but it does work. Honestly it reminds me of one of those optical illusion pictures where there are actually two drawings within one and depending on whether or not you’re left brained or right brained, you see one or the other.

My first instinct with this dress will always make me see blue and black, but if I try to, then I can see white and gold.

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I know what you’re thinking: “Jess. What does The Dress have to do with this post?”

I was getting to that. See, this post has been in my Posts folder on the WordPress dashboard for nearly a month. I’ve been purposely passing it over in favor of other recipes and at one point, considered deleting it altogether. It’s not that this is a bad recipe; it’s actually delicious.

The problem was I just didn’t like the way the pictures turned out. Or at least most times, I didn’t.

Photographing brown food is really hard, guys. If you have crap lighting, then forget about; it’s not gonna work. But even under the best lighting circumstances imaginable, there’s still the risk that the dish you’re shooting will turn out looking…not appetizing.

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I did what I could to prevent this from happening; including other colors,making sure my sauce was fresh and shiny and sticky, and creating texture with sesame seeds…but when it was all said and done I still wasn’t sure.

At one point, I would look at these pictures and think that the meatballs looked good. Then the next day I’d look at them and think they looked like….

Well, you get it.

But today I feel like they don’t look too shabby. And considering I DID put in the work in cooking and photographing them, I figure I’d make it worthwhile and just put the friggin post up regardless. You guys be the judge.

Just think of it like The Dress photo; give it a few tries and see if you can see things differently than my more negative/self-depreciating side. Let me know if it works. And if it doesn’t, then do me a favor: don’t feel obligated to point it out. Just don’t tell me. Deal?

Oh yeah and Happy Fiesta Friday #57 at The Novice Gardener.



Asian Turkey Meatballs

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine



For the Meatballs:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (about 1/4 head)
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 ounces shitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps thinly sliced
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 egg white
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 4 scallions, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 2 -inch piece ginger, peeled and finely grated (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha chile sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 head Boston lettuce, leaves separated


1. Make the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer the cabbage to a plate to cool.

2. Wipe out the pan, then add the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and the mushrooms. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to the plate with the cabbage to cool.

3. Lightly beat the eggs and egg white in a large bowl. Add the pork, scallions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and cornstarch. Add the cabbage, mushrooms and a few grinds of pepper and mix with your hands until just combined (do not overmix). Dampen your hands and shape the meat mixture into 18 balls (about 2 inches each); arrange on the prepared baking sheet.

4. Make the sauce: Mix the hoisin sauce, Sriracha, vinegar, sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a bowl; set aside 1/2 cup for serving. Brush the meatballs with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake until cooked through, 18 to 22 minutes. Serve in lettuce leaves with the reserved sauce.

64 thoughts on “Asian Turkey Meatballs

  1. White and gold for me! Though my husband SWEARS it’s blue and gold! How is that possible? Now I know why his clothes never match unless I pick them out…heheh.
    As for these meatballs…wonderful flavors! They look fabulous and I love the idea of serving them in lettuce wraps too. So much healthier than the bun alternative! Delicious post, Jess! (Great photos, too!)

  2. Its blue and black for me. Maybe I will look a couple of times more and see if I can strike gold. But right now i can see a rich beautiful delish brown and i don’t want to see anything else. Yummm…

  3. Your post cracked me up! At 11:00 last night my daughter texts me a picture, and says what color do you think this dress is? I didn’t know what she was talking about, but after watching the news today, I do. I’m afraid to tell you what I saw because it isn’t one of the 2 choices. I saw light blue and gold! Not sure I want to know what this means!:( Anyway, I hope you will still think it a compliment if I say I think your pictures look great. I wish I had some of those meatballs in front of me right now. Also, just to let you know you’re not the only one, I feel the exact same way about the pictures on my post today. It was such a great recipe, though, I posted it anyway, but cringe every time I look at them. Thanks for letting me know that I’m not the only one who feels that way, Jess, and thanks for a great recipe!

    1. I hate when I start to second guess my photos- I get in my own head about it all the time lol Thanks Shari- and I won’t hold it against you about the dress πŸ˜‰

  4. Yes, it’s all over social media Jess, what’s the fuss I ask? :)). I can’t imagine why you kept these meatballs hidden for so long. The pictures are gorgeous dressed up with the green lettuce, I love the glaze, the shine, the colors…. but you’re right, I guess I never thought brown food looked so bad in pictures. However, most of our winter foods are brown aren’t they? :). I love the ingredients, and I always stick with turkey too, so much healthier.

    1. Thanks Loretta, that means a lot to hear you say that. Today’s actually one of those days when I’m not so ‘sure’ about them.

      And in regards to the dress, it’s a ‘controversy’ where some people look at the picture and see blue and black (like me) and others see white and gold. πŸ™‚

    1. TRUE Ginger; I’ve looked at pictures that have had the light altered where they make the dress look white and gold…but it IS blue and black. Thank you!

  5. When I look at the dress I see light blue and gold… but I’ve always known that I’m completely weird πŸ˜› I’m right there with you on how hard it is to photography brown food… I mean even regular, bright and colorful food can be tricky, but brown food? Ugh! Your meatballs, however… look YUMMY!! I can practically taste that sticky sauce πŸ˜€

  6. It’s definitely white and gold for me! My husband sees blue and black and it has been driving us crazy!! These meatballs are making my stomach grumble and I work through the last few hours of the day. I heart hoisin sauce so I know that these must be absolutely decadent and delicious πŸ™‚ Hope you have a great weekend Jess!

    1. Aw man, Heather really? Get your ‘cones’ checked lol (just kidding) I hope you weekend is awesome too (the weather’s so much nicer this way;-))

  7. I am kind of obsessed with Asian flavors right now and seeing your meatballs makes me really hungry. They sounds delicious and I think my Gyoza and your meatballs would make an excellent combination. The sauce sounds wonderful!!!

  8. These meatballs looks amazing! I like that you added some mushrooms, nice touch:) as for the dress, I think it’s changing colors, well, at least for me! Have a nice weekend! Olga x

    1. The dress changes colors for me too, if I ‘make’ it change colors in my head. But on first instinct, it’s blue and black. Thank you, the mushrooms give the meatballs a really great heartiness that I love πŸ™‚

    1. The only way I can imagine people seeing white and gold is if they’re looking at one of the ‘altered’ pics I’ve seen floating around the internet. Thanks Alice!

    1. Thanks Bonnie- as a fellow food blogger, I know you can appreciate that and that compliment means a lot coming from you- who is virtually incapable of taking a ‘bad’ picture πŸ™‚

  9. I saw white and gold, but that makes sense since I have terrible eye sight! Every now and then I’ll see a light blue and gold, but never ever black!
    I get what you mean about not wanting to post a recipe before of the photos, happens to me all the time! I’m glad you did though because these look yummy!

    1. Thank you Michelle- I’m almost starting to wonder if there’s another dress out there that really IS white and gold, so many people see it that way lol

  10. White and gold…. at least we can agree that those meatballs look amazing! πŸ˜€
    (Really, they do. Meatballs are supposed to look like that! Good work!)

    1. You know that’s happened to me once or twice Julie. Now, I’ve tried not to look at pictures of the dress anymore because I’m focused on sticking to my guns lol

      Thank you πŸ™‚

  11. Yum, Jess! I make a version of asian turkey meatballs too, but yours are far more enticing than mine! I have bookmarked your recipe! Thanks so much! πŸ˜€

    1. Y’know, I do think it’s the sauce that’s really saving these pictures Sadia. And I mean, sauce saves lots of things in life, so I guess that makes sense right? lol Thank you πŸ˜€

  12. These meatballs look really delicious, with just the kind of flavours I love! πŸ™‚ I’m so hungry… Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

  13. Hey Jess!
    Love the theme of your blog- very clever, sets you apart on first impression from all the foodie blogs. As for these meatballs- SO CREATIVE! I’m all for recipes that twist your standard meatball (I blame too many mornings with Rachel ray) but this looks so unique flavor-wise. Touch down.

    Disclaimer: I have no background in sports and my references may very well be totally irrelevant.
    Xoxo K

  14. Bit late to the party here but I think that your meatballs look fabulous – dark and glossy and just a knock out agaist the green lettuce! I saw white and gold, btw, but have seen the blue and black too…

    1. Gosh, I’m starting to feel outnumbered by people who see white and gold lol

      But thanks Selma- the lettuce was a way to make the brown in the meat not look so,well…brown. Thank you πŸ™‚

    1. Haha, of course we could discuss it. I may still see blue and black and you may still see light blue and gold, but at least we’ll still have the meatballs lol thank you πŸ™‚

  15. Honestly the color looks good to me, but still if you’re not happy with the final result I will be more than happy to look after these babies πŸ˜€ they look yummy!

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