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Meatballs in Peanut Curry Sauce

Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields 32 to 40 meatballs.

Servings: 8

Thick canned coconut milk tames the fire in this curry. The brand Chao Koh is recommended because it develops a thick, creamy layer on top if you don’t shake the can before opening it.


  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. ground beef, medium lean (80 or 85%)
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil; more if necessary
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. red curry paste (I like Krung Gaeng Ped brand); more to taste
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk (refrigerate the can, don’t shake it, and use the thick cream at the top)
  • 2 Tbs. chunky peanut butter
  • 2 tsp. fish sauce (nam pla) or to taste
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. sugar or to taste
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh mint or basil leaves for garnish

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size per meatball
  • Calories (kcal) : 50
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 30
  • Fat (g): 3.5
  • Saturated Fat (g): 2
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 1
  • Cholesterol (mg): 5
  • Sodium (mg): 110
  • Carbohydrates (g): 3
  • Fiber (g): 0
  • Protein (g): 3


  • Put the flour on a plate. Put the beef in a bowl, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and mix well. Shape the beef into small, firm balls about 1 inch in diameter; you’ll get 32 to 40. Roll the meatballs in the flour, dusting off the excess.
  • Line a plate with paper towels. In a wok or frying pan, heat the oil on high until it’s hot. Fry the garlic until browned, about 1 minute; remove and set aside. Add the meatballs and sear them on high heat, stirring and tilting the pan, until they’re browned evenly and cooked through, about 5 minutes; do this in batches, if necessary. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to the paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  • If no oil remains in the pan, add 2 tsp. and fry the red curry paste so it releases its aromas, about 2 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking. Add the reserved garlic and the solidified coconut milk and then stir in the peanut butter. Cook and stir to get a smooth, uniform consistency, about 1 minute. Taste and add fish sauce, sugar, or more curry paste to taste; the sauce shouldn’t be too sweet.

  • Return the meatballs to the pan with the sauce and simmer over low heat until they’re hot, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the mint or basil sprinkled on top.

Serve with Basmati Rice.


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Reviews (9 reviews)

  • DeborahW | 04/24/2019

    I was happy with the flavor of these (did use 2 Tbs of red curry paste) and a pinch of dried hot peppers. I served it as a main dish with a side of Thai Stir Fried Spinach.

    My problem with the recipe is that it is not a good make ahead recipe....like others my sauce broke rather badly and no amount of tinkering with it could fix it. I thought it was delicious when freshly made, but did not hold well in a warm pan (off heat) for an hour.

    I will make again, but will just fry the garlic and add the curry paste ahead....but will combine the coconut cream and peanut butter with the fish sauce and sugar in a bowl, and will not stir that into the curry paste in the skillet until the last minute, and then add back the reserved (warm) meatballs. A quick stir, and onto a platter. That should solve the problem,

  • MarkandSophie | 03/29/2014

    Honestly, we cook from Fine Cooking 3-4 times per week, on average, and are rarely disappointed. On hectic weeknights, a dish such as this one is a pleasant way to unwind once we both arrive home. There is lots of complex and warming flavor- just enough kick to provide that nice zing. Brown the meatballs really well and use a good red curry paste and coconut milk, as recommended. My husband doesn't care for peanut butter, but loves these meatballs.

  • mturn | 10/08/2012

    This was disappointing. The sauce was heavy and dull. I added more red curry paste, but it didn't help.

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