Faith Kramer's Meatballs with Buckwheat Noodles
Faith Kramer's Meatballs with Buckwheat Noodles

Joy-filled meatballs and chicken for a joy-filled month

When my children were growing up, I never told them what I planned to cook for dinner. That forestalled the inevitable protests, with a few exceptions, such as when meatballs or grilled chicken were on the menu. These dishes were always joyfully anticipated, so updating them for my now-adult sons seems like a good way to celebrate the month of Adar I, which began at sundown Feb. 6.

Adar, the month of the raucous holiday of Purim, is often associated with joy, and it’s so nice we sometimes do it twice, like this year when we add the leap month of Adar II.

The Meatballs with Buckwheat Noodles recipe features hoisin sauce and soba noodles. Adjust the heat of the Hot Sauce Chicken by using more or less hot sauce in the basting mixture. I hope these recipes bring you joy, too.

Meatballs with Buckwheat Noodles

Serves 3

  • 8 oz. ground beef
  • ½ tsp. plus 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • ½ tsp. plus 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce, divided
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. plus 3–4 Tbs. oil
  • 2 cups chopped bok choy
  • 1½–2 cups chicken broth
  • 6 Tbs. hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tbs. mirin or rice vinegar
  • 12 oz. dried buckwheat soba
  • 2 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
  • Chopped cilantro or green onions for garnish

Mix beef with ½ tsp. garlic, ½ tsp. ginger, 1 Tbs. soy sauce, salt, ¼ cup sesame seeds and egg. Coat large plate with 1 tsp. oil. Wet hands. Form meat into 1-inch balls. Place on plate.

Add 3 Tbs. oil to large, deep skillet. Fry meatballs in batches on medium-high until cooked. Handle gently. Drain on paper towels.

Wipe out skillet. Add 1 Tbs. oil if needed. Sauté remaining garlic over medium-high heat until golden. Stir in remaining ginger and bok choy. Sauté 2 minutes. Stir in 1½ cups broth, hoisin, mirin and remaining soy sauce. Simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce is very thick, but pourable. Add meatballs. Simmer, turning occasionally, until reheated. Add remaining broth if needed.

While sauce is cooking, bring large pot of water to boil. Cook soba according to package directions (or see notes). Drain, rinse thoroughly with cold water, and drain again. Toss with 2 Tbs. sesame oil. Reheat or use at room temperature. Serve meatballs and sauce on soba with garnishes.

Note: Most buckwheat soba noodles also contain wheat. To cook, add soba to boiling water and stir. Simmer until cooked but not mushy.

Hot Sauce Chicken Thighs

Serves 6-8

  • ½ cup oil, divided, plus extra for grill
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 5 tsp. plus ½ tsp. minced garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp. plus ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbs. dried mint
  • 1 Tbs. dried oregano
  • ¼ cup plus 2-4 Tbs. hot sauce (see note)
  • 4-5 lbs. bone-in or 2-3 lbs. boneless chicken thighs
  • ½ tsp. paprika

Combine ¼ cup oil, lemon juice, onion, 5 tsp. garlic, ½ tsp. salt, pepper, cumin, mint, oregano and ¼ cup hot sauce in large, nonreactive container. Place chicken in marinade (removing skin if desired). Marinate covered in refrigerator for 3-4 hours, turning occasionally.

Combine paprika with remaining oil, garlic, hot sauce, and salt for basting sauce.

Remove chicken from refrigerator 30-60 minutes before grilling. Oil and heat grill. Remove chicken from marinade, shaking off excess liquid. Discard marinade. Place chicken on grill, brush with basting sauce. Turn and baste several times until cooked.

Note: Hot sauce brands vary, so taste and adjust accordingly.

Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. She blogs about her food at Contact Faith at