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.
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
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Vegan mince
- Potato starch
- Sesame oil
- Kelp stock powder
For the sticky sauce
- Maple syrup
- Soy sauce
- Rice vinegar
- Potato starch
A detailed recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.
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:
- Remove the crust from a piece of white bread.
- Pulse the bread in a food processor to make coarse crumbs.
- 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.
- Make the sauce – in a sauce pan, heat the ingredients for the sticky sauce for 2~3 minutes until the sauce thickens.
- 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.
- Fry the meatballs – I usually deep fry, but you could also pan fry or air fry them.
- Coat meatballs in sauce – add the cooked meatballs to the pan with the sweet and sour sticky sauce, and stir to coat.
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.
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
- 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
- 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
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!
- 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
- 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