Recipe & Images AMBER BREMNER

I have a whole nut and seed department in the fridge (they last longer there) because they’re an absolute staple in a plant-based diet. Nuts provide healthy fats, protein and fibre, but most importantly—texture and flavour. Cashews are my go-to for creamy dishes, including desserts, while walnuts are the winner for roasty, toasty, bold flavours and a bit of crunch.

Gochujang is a Korean chilli paste made with fermented chillies and soybeans. It’s salty, spicy (but not too spicy) and adds a deep umami flavour that really hums in this Korean style take on vegan meatballs. The balls are made with a base of black beans, toasted walnuts, oats and chia seeds (which act as an egg replacer in this recipe). Once baked, they’re boldly flavoured, warming and hearty, tender on the inside and a little crunchy on the outside. You could use a food processor to save time, but I prefer to do it by hand so that the mixture has some texture and bite. Gochujang is widely available in the Korean section at supermarkets.

Bean and walnut balls

1 tbsp chia seeds
3 tbsp water
½ cup walnuts
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup porridge oats
¼ red capsicum, very finely chopped
2 tbsp gochujang
2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely grated
cooking oil or oil spray

Gochujang glaze

3 tbsp gochujang
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1½ tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 clove garlic, crushed or finely grated

Preheat oven to 220°C. Mix chia seeds with water and set aside for 10 minutes. Toast walnuts in a dry frying pan over medium heat for 5–7 minutes, stirring constantly, until browned in places and fragrant. Let the walnuts cool for a few minutes then finely chop.

Roughly mash black beans, then add all other bean and walnut ball ingredients (including walnuts and soaked chia seeds). Mix thoroughly and ensure everything is evenly distributed. Roll into 20 even sized balls (about 1 tbsp per ball) and place on a baking sheet. Brush with a little oil, or spray with cooking oil, then bake for 20–25 minutes or until browned and firm.

While the balls are cooking, make the gochujang glaze. Put all ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 3–4 minutes, or until glossy and slightly thickened. Set aside until ready to serve.

Spoon a little glaze over each ball and enjoy as a snack with a cold beer, or serve with rice, slaw or kimchi and make a meal of it.

Amber Bremner
Quite Good Food
www.quitegoodfood.co.nz

Amber Bremner is the author of popular plant based food blog Quite Good Food. A champion for cooking and eating food that makes you feel good, she believes small changes in the way we approach food have the power to make a difference.

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