Turning Steaks Into Meat Balls And The Day I Found A New Way To Love Fresh Tuna! My Asian Style Spaghetti & Meat (Fish) Balls

There are almost no instances in which I have ever enjoyed fresh tuna well cooked where all the pinkness (taste, texture, life) has been sucked out of it.

Nothing beats ultra fresh sashimi grade tuna eaten just as it is.  There is no smell of fish– just an undercurrent of the sea.  And the flesh, well the flesh is so unctuously meaty, but so soft it melts as you chew.  For me, good quality tuna sashimi is close to perfection.  When I buy tuna steaks that are not of the sashimi grade, the way I like to cook them is to marinate them for a short while, then quickly sear the steak on all sides to create a firm, pale casing around the soft, deep pink flesh, that in my humble opinion, tastes and feels wrong if it cooked any further.  This is the only way that I have found that it could be possible to enjoy fresh tuna when the need to cook it arises.  I have never understood how and why people cook them all the way through?  If you want the cooked stuff, would  it not just be better to open a can of tuna instead?

Last week I was faced with a dilemma.  I had bought some tuna steaks with the intention of cooking them just as have detailed above- with a light sear and an Asian marinade to go with some Chinese broccoli and spiced noodles.  Simple, quick and delicious ……I thought…..

Unfortunately, when my guests arrived and we were congregating in the kitchen while I started to cook, a bomb was dropped.  Two of my dear friends mentioned their desire for me to cook their steaks well done.  I am sure you can imagine my internal reaction to this, which coincidentally didn’t take long to externalize, albeit in a pre watershed- esq fashion.  :)

This would mean that 2 of the 4  people eating were not going to enjoy or experience their meal as I would have intended or liked.  I needed to change things up which would possibly involve the unthinkable.  With my thinking cap on I opened my mind up to the crimes I could commit against the beautiful tuna steaks.

It didn’t take me long to adjust my mind to a life of crime and I pretty quickly decided that the only thing to do was to murder the steaks and make them into balls.  I had spaghetti and meatballs on my mind from earlier in the day (scenes from Lady and the Tramp will do that to a person) which gave me a sudden burst of excitement about changing things up and started to rummage in the fridge to get the dish on the road.

Once I minced the steaks and added in the original marinade that I was going to used, anything I could find that was Asian cuisine inclined went in to the mix before I rolled out the balls to fry them.  I added a sauce to the noodles and that was the day I created a new and utterly delicious way for me (and my friends) to enjoy fresh tuna steaks.  The moral I have reiterated to myself: Never Say Never.  :)

My Asian Spaghetti & Meatballs

Serves 4 (with extra meatballs to snack on later :) )

Although this is not as quick as just cooking steaks- if you have a food processor- you are barely going to add 5 minutes to your prep time as virtually everything can be chopped in there.  The result is deliciously, juicy, flavourful and fragrant meatballs with not a hint of dryness in sight.  The recipe is extremly versatile in that you can customise it to serve it as a starter, snack or main course ; I will definitely be trying out this recipe as a burger and as an hors d’oeuvre in the future.   I urge you to try this recipe and revolutionise the way you cook tuna steaks, too!

The Meatballs


  • 400- 450g tuna steaks
  • 30g ginger
  • 30 g garlic
  • 2 green chillies or to taste
  • half head of cabbage
  • 1 red pepper
  • 3 spring onions
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup packed finely chopped coriander
  • 1tbsp black sesame (if you only have the regular white ones- you can sub these)
  • 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • enough oil to shallow fry
The marinade to mix into the meatballs
  • 1 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2-3 tsp fish sauce (sub with light soy sauce for allergy issues)
  • 1 tbsp black vinegar (if you don’t have this Worcestershire sauce is a great alternative)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp  Shao Xing wine
The Noodle Sauce
  • 2 tbsp of oil
  • 15g minced ginger
  • 15g minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp fish sauce (optional- sub salt or light soy sauce)
  • 1- 2 tbsp black vinegar (slightly less if you’re using Worcestershire sauce)
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Shao Xing wine
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1/4 cup coriander chopped
  • 2-3 spring onions chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp cornflour in 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 – 1 1/2cup water- or to preference

250 g udon noodles cooked in salted water (I used Clearspring Brown Rice Udon Noodles- highly recommended- were delicious)
1 bag bean sprouts washed (if you are not using these cook extra noodles – another 50g or so)
Sesame bonito topping for garnishing (optional)


  1.  For the meatballs you will find it much easier if you have a food processor.  If not you will need to chop all of the ingredients as finely as possible and put in a bowl before adding the egg, breadcrumbs, sesame seeds and marinade.  If you have a food processor, process in stages.  First the ginger, garlic and chilies and red onion.  Then add the tuna to the mix and pulse to chop it, but not make it into a paste.  Remove contents and put in a bowl. Next chop the rest of the vegetables and coriander with the pulse button so that they are fine, but again not a paste or puree. Empty contents into the bowl with the tuna.
  2. Next add all the ingredients for the marinade, the egg, the breadcrumbs and sesame seeds.  Mix well and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
  3. When the mix has rested shape into balls.  From this mixture you can make at least 18 golf sized balls- so adjust to the size you’d like.  You can also make these into burgers.  I would say you’d get 6 reasonably sized burgers.  Leave the balls to rest for 10 mins or so in the fridge if you have time.  If not you can cook them immediately without much issue.  Just turn when frying a little more frequently to retain a round shape if that is what you desire.
  4. Heat a wide based pan to shallow fry the balls.  Add enough oil so that the balls can fry without sticking- if you want to use less oil, use a non-stick pan.  Brown on all side.  About 5-7 mins cooking in total- more if you are making burgers.  Do not over cook as they will continue to cook a little with the residual heat in them.  When done set aside to rest.
  5. Now put the noodles on to cook while you make the sauce.  Heat the oil in a pan and add the ginger, garlic and chilies if you are using them.  Allow cook without browning too much.  With the heat on high, add all the sauces and boil for a minute.  Turn the heat down slightly and whisk in the cornflour mixed in water.  Add some more water depending on the quantity of sauce you want to make. Whisk to avoid lumps. If you want a thick sauce just coating the noodles- add a little less that the whole cup.  I find 1 extra cup of water is a good amount…next time I may add a little more than a cup as the noodles soak the sauce up quickly.  Bring the sauce to the boil where it will thicken and add the coriander leaves and spring onions.  Check for seasoning and adjust with extra soy sauce and black vinegar/ Worcestershire sauce.  Reserve about 1/2 cup of sauce to pour over the meatballs.
  6. Throw the drained noodles and the bag of beansprouts into the remaining sauce  and coat well.
  7. To serve,  plate the noodles and top with your desired number of meatballs (3-4 is a good portion) .  Finally, if you have it- garnish with my sesame bonito topping (recipe will be coming soon!) or if not, a sprinkling of sesame seeds/and or finely chopped spring onions. Enjoy!!


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