Lamb Meatballs, Snow Pea Sprouts with Shacha Sauce

One of the perks of having a housemate from a country other than Malaysia is the opportunity to see what he/she cooks in the kitchen. Not that all  the housemates I had were good cooks but sometimes, you might be able to pick up a thing or two if  you open your eyes and observe carefully (and to close one eye (to some extent) when it comes to cleanliness or strange house guests for the rest of the time. Yep,  you can  say that’s my guide to live harmoniously with non-family members :P).

Anyway, one of the many rewards was the introduction to sha cha (沙茶) sauce. When the sauce first came to light, I have no idea what the sauce might contain. After all, the term sha cha has no indication of the ingredients as soy sauce and black bean sauce have.

{Side note: The plating I was going for was a meatball croquembouche. Not too tacky, I hope. :P}

*Sheepishly* It’s pretty obvious that my knowledge of Asian sauces is not great (there’s still room for more exploration – translation: more justified trips  to Asian groceries!!).  If my past Asian recipes served any hints, I pretty much stick to the standards ones like soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce and sambal sauce (uhm, just realised that sambal is not too standard to some of you).

Clearly, apart from these known ones to the vast majority, there are still more untapped but equally versatile sauces have yet to be discovered. So for the purpose of this post, say hello to shacha sauce!

{A glimpse of sha cha (沙茶) sauce. More info here.}

{Snow pea sprouts – taste like the size zero version of bean sprouts (aka taugeh in Hokkein)}

Lamb Meatballs, Snow Pea Sprouts with Sacha Sauce

(A Fuss Free Cooking recipe)

After some quick googling, it seems like sacha sauce and lamb is a popular combination. I’ve tried this sauce with tofu and asian green as well as chicken. So far I’m quite happy either combination but if I have to pick a favourite, lamb is top on my list.

The sauce is quite salty and sweet on its own, and there’s a hint of nuttiness which makes it tastes unusual. But nothing too overpowering though.

Serves 2-3

Ingredients for meatballs:-

450g minced lamb

1/2 tbsp grated ginger

Salt and pepper to taste

A drop sesame oil

1/2 tbsp sacha sauce

1 tbsp semolina

Ingredients for stir-fry:-

1/2 inch thick ginger, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2 dried chillies or 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)

1 tbsp sacha sauce

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

A handful of snow pea sprouts


To make the meatballs: Preheat the griller. Combine all the ingredients and work the meat dough until pliable. Form a 1/2 inch in diameter meatballs and repeat this step with the remaining meat.  Then, grill them for 15 – 20 minutes, turning once. Set aside and quickly move on to make the stir-fry.

To make the stir-fry: On low heat and with a little oil, saute the ginger, dried chillies and garlic until aromatic. Add sacha sauce, soy sauce, sugar, snow peas sprouts and  the meatballs, stir to combine. Cook until the sprouts are lightly wilted. (FYI: Sacha sauce shouldn’t spend too long in the pan to avoid burning.)

{起筷 (hei fai)! – Literally means lift your chopsticks in Cantonese; coloquially means “let’s start”}

Meat Recipes, Red Meat. permalink.

37 thoughts on “Lamb Meatballs, Snow Pea Sprouts with Shacha Sauce

  1. Hi Emily, this looks really fingerlicious! I dare to ask; what camera do you use to make the photo’s? They are so beautiful!!

    • Hi Merlin,

      Crystal has answered it for me! I was going to ask my beloved for the version with 18-200mm lens for this post (I’m kinda ditzy when it comes to electronics), but normally I’d use a shorter lens for others (FYI – it’s his camera actually and I’ve nicked it for food pics :P)
      Also I have post processed the photos with a freeware called Photoscape, not as sophisticated as Adobe Photoshop but it does the job for, it’s all that matters, really.
      And thanks for your lovely comment. 🙂

  2. A meatball croquembouche, that’s so cute! Any meat eater or foodie can definitely appreciate that. Sacha sauce… I’m pretty unfamiliar with this ingredient also. I’ve heard it referenced in a couple other foodies’ blogs but that’s about it. I should definitely keep my eye out for it. I wonder what it tastes like!

    • Thanks Roxan. I’ve realised I probably didn’t give the best description when it comes to taste of the sauce. I was going to say it’s like the korean chilli bean sauce but oilier and nuttier, but then I’m sure not many had that either. Catch 22, hehehe!

      Cool eh? Meat croquembouche, my male carnivorous friends would certainly appreciate this! 😛

  3. Merlin, the photos were taken with a Nikon D90, but keep in mind it’s not the camera that takes the photo, it’s the photographer.

    As a photographer myself, the photos are excellent.

    • Hi Crystal,

      I’m amazed with your ability to tell which camera I used, I don’t even know the exact version (ditzy alert!!!) I had a look at your site, can I say your photos are gorgeous!!!!
      Oh, and thanks for the huge compliment coming from a professional photographer, now I have something to brag to my beloved now 😛

    • Hi Lisa,

      I’m with you about some of the lamb dishes. Either they are very good (till you want to keep them coming) or really bad (push your plate away and suffer lamb phobia).

      Hence I reserve this recipe for lamb even though I’ve tried with chicken and tofu before. Good lamb recipes are hard to come by….:)

  4. You have a housemate?! I’m envious!! I love Asian meatballs seriously but may have to omit lamb and change to beef. Somehow I don’t get along well with lamb haha. I stick with the same sauces as yours. How funny. The shacha sauce is def’ new to me.

    Go Meatball croquembouche!!

    • Hi Tanantha,

      Well, used to, now it’s only myself and my beloved (I’m enjoying the privacy though). Before Orange (the place we’re staying at the moment), we were renting a quite pricey apartment so it helped to have a housemate. 🙂

      Oh, I’ve tried with beef as well, and it can work too. Hope you’ll like it! 🙂

  5. Hi Emily…I love lamb and this looks delicious, all that meat piled up!
    I have never heard the sauce before.I’ll have to keep my eyes open if i go to an Asian supermarket.

    Totally understand the need to close your eyes time to time with the housemates! 🙂

  6. Totally agree with you Crystal, its the photographer that makes the picture.
    @ Emily, that freeware program looks like alot of fun with all the features in it, thank you again for sharing, that is so nice of you!

  7. I’m afraid that if I were to make this, I would consume a whole bowl, all by myself. I absolutely love this recipe, and can’t wait to try it (and if my family is lucky, they will get to try it too!).

    Congrats on a gorgeous Top 9 and for being featured in Gourmet Live!

  8. Wow! This is a show-stopper. I want to reach into my computer screen and grab one of those amazing looking meatballs. I’m going to try this recipe. Plus, I have a blog devoted to world cuisine and I’m really happy to learn about Shacha sauce. Thanks!

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