Native American Sweet Meat Or Tofu Balls

We All Have Spices

Like We All Have Traditions

I’ve joined a foodie club called Food ‘N Flix, where members watch a designated movie each month, make a dish inspired by the movie, and submit it to whichever blog was chosen to host that movie. This month’s movie is Mistress of Spices (2005), hosted at Culinary Adventures with Camilla. The movie is about a woman (some kind of Hindu goddess or witch), named Tilo, that vows to (a) never leave her apothecary, (b) never touch the skin of a human, and (c) never use consume or apply her merchandise. The spirits that attach themselves to the spices in her apothecary give her visions of the past, present, and future so that she knows exactly what her customers need. She also puts her will into the spices she touches, so they get used in her intended way. Tilo’s crush, Doug, is a Native American (Irony?) whose mother pretended to be white, denying him his heritage his whole life. My husband grew up with his Native American culture repressed, like Doug, but pressed on with it and learned what he needed to learn in order to become a witch like Tilo.

You Will Never Leave The Spices

My Food ‘N Flix recipe is a Native American dish, using La Cocina de Leslie’s Food of the Month Club ingredient: ground beef. You can also use textured soy protein (chunky tofu), like I did (I’m no vegetarian, but I love the idea of reducing fat.). This was my first time cooking tofu, ever. I’m thrilled with the results!

I made these for a party Saturday and the host (who absolutely loved them) told me I shouldn’t tell anyone that they’re tofu to see how people react when they eat them. In fact, she declared out loud that everyone should try my meatballs (Or, as she said it while basking in her prank, “MEATballs!”). Everybody thought they were meat and really enjoyed them, even though they were cold by the time I got to the party (I didn’t anticipate the fact that nobody wanted to heat up their tofu balls in the microwave.).

Spices Remind Me

Of My Duty To Others

To someone from Northeastern U.S. (in my case, New Jersey), these taste like meat that you would eat with your breakfast. Specifically, they taste like smoked sausage marinated in maple syrup. The pine nuts and blueberries add to the breakfast taste, because we Northerners like a lot of fruit and buts to start off our mornings (ex. fruit salads, parfaits, oatmeal, pancakes, crepes, French toast, waffles, muffins, scones, bagels, Pennsylvania Dutch-Deutsch bread, etc.).

Native American Sweet Meat or Tofu Balls

You want to use frozen blueberries so that they don’t cook as fast. I just bought fresh blueberries and tossed them in the freezer overnight beforehand.

Yield: about 27 balls

Ground beef-10 oz.-mixed with 1 1/2 tsp liquid smoke; or vegetarian ground beef (textured soy protein) with a smoked (I used Boca Burgers, which have a smoked taste, but you could try grilling other brands of vegetarian burgers) 10 oz. (6 oz. is 1/2 lb.)

Butter about 1 1/2 tsp for greasing (or canola oil for greasing)

Maple syrup about 1 1/2 cups, but you may want to have more than that

Pine nuts about 81 (I’m guessing that’s about 2 tbsp)

Frozen blueberries about 27 (a little more than 1/2 cup)

Ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp

Ground ginger 1/4 tsp

  1. If you’re using tofu burgers, let them defrost then cut them to pieces until the consistency is that of ground beef.
  2. Put on rubber gloves and mix the cinnamon and ginger into the beef or tofu. If using beef, have all the ingredients already laid out for you before touching the beef. When thoroughly mixed in, flatten the beef, but don’t press down more than you need to. The more you mess with the texture of the beef or tofu, the harder the consistency gets (you want it to be as soft as possible).
  3. Rip off a piece of beef or tofu that’s just large enough to wrap up a blueberry. You can start by putting the blueberry towards an edge and breaking off a piece around it. After a few balls, you will know exactly how much you need. Place 1 blueberry and 3 pine nuts inside and fold up the sides, forming a ball. You should be able to make about 27 balls that are 1 inch high and 1 inch wide.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  5. Grease a baking sheet with butter. Make sure it has sides (as opposed to a flat cookie sheet) so that the balls don’t roll off.
  6. Roll balls in maple syrup to make sure they don’t come apart, and also as flavoring.
  7. (A) For both beef, bake for about 20 minutes. They will be cooked when the insides are no longer pink. OR (B) For tofu, bake for about 13 minutes. They will be cooked when the insides are warm.
  8. When cooked, pour maple syrup on top, and serve hot.

 

The ground beef version is on the left (atop wild rice) and the tofu version is on the right.

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8 thoughts on “Native American Sweet Meat Or Tofu Balls

  1. Oh, what a wonderfully inspired post! I think I might have to make these with t.s.p. just to see how they taste! I’m happy that you’ll be joining us at Food ‘n Flix, too.

    • Thank you! Native American culture is all about experiencing sensations from things you can’t see with the naked eye. Sure a tree can be beautiful, but that is only part of what the tree is, the same way a person can look aesthetically pleasing, but has a personality yet to be explored. To feel the tree, one would have to experience it at a deeper level than just vision. Therefore, the meat/tofu balls have a blueberry hidden inside, quite the shock once a person bites into the fruit.

    • Thanks you! While you’re hiding your snickers behind your cell phone and blaming it on YouTube, everyone’s thinking of how classy you are for being the only person who didn’t bring booze, store brand soda, or potato chips. 😀

  2. I too love your inspiration for this dish. I was always taught that food is one way we connect or stay connected to our cultures.

    I love that each “meat” ball has a little surprise inside. 🙂 Thank you so much for linking up with the Food of the Month Club again this month. 🙂

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