Simple Vegan Recipes

Japanese-style Vegan Meatballs

They are crispy on the outside, tender and savory on the inside. With a delicious sweat and sour sticky sauce, these are the perfect vegan version of Japanese-style meatballs, Nikudango.

[日本語のレシピはここをクリック]

an image of vegan meatballs over bowl of rice

Vegan Meatballs – Nikudango 肉団子

Nikudango, or Japanese-style meatball, is a popular comfort food in Japan. They are usually made of minced pork, fried and then coated in a sweet and sour sticky sauce. I veganized this dish by using tofu, panko breadcrumbs, and vegan mince.

These meatballs are actually very versatile. You can make various dishes with them, just by using a different type of sauce. They can be served over rice, with breads, or even in soups. So, go ahead and make a big batch! They keep well in the freezer.

What ingredients you need

Here is a list of the ingredients you will need to make these Japanese-style meatballs.

For the meatballs

  • Tofu
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Vegan mince
  • Potato starch
  • Sesame oil
  • Kelp stock powder
  • Salt

For the sticky sauce

  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Maple syrup
  • Soy sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Potato starch
  • Water

A detailed recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.

Ingredient Notes

Tofu – I use silken tofu (絹ごし豆腐), but you could also use firm tofu (木綿豆腐).

Vegan mince – minced meat such as OmniPork or Naturli’s Plantbased Mince work best for this recipe.

Kelp stock – or Kombu dashi (昆布だし) is equivalent to veg stock/bouillon in Japanese cooking. It’s readily available at Japanese supermarkets and on Amazon. If you don’t have kelp stock, you can substitute it with veg stock powder.

Potato starch – can be subbed with cornstarch.

Panko breadcrumbs – they are lighter and flakier than regular breadcrumbs. If you don’t have panko, you can use regular breadcrumbs or make your own.

To make panko:

  1. Remove the crust from a piece of white bread.
  2. Pulse the bread in a food processor to make coarse crumbs.
  3. Bake in the oven at 300 F/ 150 C degrees for about 5 minutes, until the crumbs are dry, but not toasted. You don’t want the crumbs to brown

How to make Vegan Meatballs

A detailed recipe is in the recipe card at the bottom of this post, but let me give you a quick overview of the process. 

  1. Make the sauce – in a sauce pan, heat the ingredients for the sticky sauce for 2~3 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  2. Make the meatballs – add tofu and panko to a food processor and blend into a paste. Combine the paste with the rest of the meatball ingredients and mix well. Shape the mixture into balls.
  3. Fry the meatballs – I usually deep fry, but you could also pan fry or air fry them.
  4. Coat meatballs in sauce – add the cooked meatballs to the pan with the sweet and sour sticky sauce, and stir to coat.
an image of vegan meatballs with sticky sauce

How to serve and store

I usually serve these meatballs with sticky sauce with rice or steamed veggies. Broccoli, spinach and bok choy pair especially well.

Another way you could enjoy these meatballs is with a simple marinara sauce, for a meatball spaghetti dish or a meatball sub.

an image of a meatball sub

You can store cooked meatballs in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge. In the freezer, they will keep for up to 2 months.

Thank you for visiting my blog! If you made this recipe, or any other recipes of mine, be sure to tag me @veganesetokyo on Instagram and use the hashtag #veganesetokyo. I would love to see your creations❤️

Japanese-style Vegan Meatballs

They are crispy on the outside, tender and savory on the inside. Coat them in a sweet and sour sticky sauce, and you have the perfect Japanese-style meatballs These Japanese-style meatballs are a popular comfort food in Japanese cuisine.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 10 meatballs

Ingredients

sticky sauce

  • 5 tbsp water
  • 1/3 tsp garlic grated
  • 1/4 tsp ginger grated
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar

potato starch slurry

  • 1 tsp potato starch
  • 2 tsp water

Meatballs

  • 50 grams silken tofu no need to press
  • 3 tbsp panko
  • 200 grams vegan mince
  • 1/2 tbsp potato starch
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/3 tsp kelp stock powder or veg stock powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

Make the sticky sauce

  • Add all the ingredients for the sticky sauce in a pan, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, add potato starch slurry and simmer for 2~3 minutes until the sauce thickens. Set aside.

Make the meatballs

  • Add tofu and panko in a food processor and blend into a paste. Add the paste and the rest of the meatball ingredients in a bowl. Mix until ingredients are evenly combined.
  • Shape the mixture into balls, and fry them. I usually deep fry meatballs, but you could pan fry or air fry them as well.
  • Add the fried meatballs in the pan with the sticky sauce. On medium-low heat, warm up the sauce and stir to coat evenly.
  • Serve warm with some rice, or steamed veggies. Enjoy!
    Japanese-style meatballs

ヴィーガン・肉団子のレシピ

ヴィーガン肉団子

ヴィーガン肉団子のレシピです。外はカリカリ、中はフワッとした肉団子を甘じょっぱい甘酢あんにからませました。ご飯が進む一品です!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Servings: 10

Ingredients

甘酢あん

  • 水 大さじ5
  • ニンニク、すりおろし 小さじ1/3
  • 生姜、すりおろし 小さじ1/4
  • メープルシロップ 大さじ1
  • 醤油 大さじ1.5
  • 米酢 大さじ1
  • 水溶き片栗粉 適量

肉団子

  • ヴィーガンミンチ 200g OmniMeatがオススメです
  • 絹ごし豆腐 50g
  • パン粉 大さじ3
  • 片栗粉 大さじ1/2
  • 昆布だし、粉末 小さじ1/3
  • ごま油 小さじ1/4
  • 塩 小さじ1/2

Instructions

甘酢あんを作る

  • 甘酢あんの材料を全て鍋に入れて、ひと煮立ちする。とろみが出るまで、弱火で2〜3分煮る。

肉団子を作る

  • 豆腐とパン粉をフードプロセッサーに入れて、ペースト状になるまで攪拌する。
  • 1と団子の材料を全てボウルに入れ、よく混ぜ合わせる。
  • 団子のタネを丸めて、180度の油でじっくりあげる。
  • 団子を甘酢あんの鍋に移し、よく絡めたら出来上がり!
    Japanese-style meatballs

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Hi there! I'm Lily

I created Veganese Tokyo to share with you all of my vegan recipes. If you are a newbie at vegan cooking, or simply looking for some inspiration, please feel free to explore. My recipes are all very simple and easy to make!

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