Trying to self-teach myself German so far has not produced any good result despite trying since 1998. So, let's see what I can do in the culinary department.
I have always been a little wary of trying Western food especially European ones as the taste is usually too rich and heavy for my Asian taste bud. But a little bit of something wouldn't hurt.
I decided on this recipe. Koenigsberger Klopse. German food, as I have noticed from poring through recipes has similarities with many Eastern European recipes. I think it's the history which goes back to old and even ancient times. These meatballs are named after the formerly German city of Koenigsberg which now belongs to Russia (Kaliningrad). So, there you go.
I first saw this on YouTube (about 2 years ago I think) when Bill Kaulitz declared that Koenigsberger Klopse was his favourite food. That boy sure has a strong willpower when he gave this up to turn vegetarian. Been wondering what the dish must taste like as I believe he wouldn't eat something if it wasn't appealing to his taste.
I do have certain challenges when it comes to cooking International dishes as I am restricted by religious dietary requirement. So, I have to adjust the recipes a bit to suit my 'halal' and non-alcoholic rules.
You can find good guidelines for alcohol substitutes here on About.com and here on What'sCookingAmerica.com.
After searching for many recipes, I settled for this one I found at Recipezaar.com by user BecR.
Koenigsberger Klopse Recipe (My non-alcoholic version)
3 lb ground meat (I used ground beef. BecR mixes sirloin, pork and veal)
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/4 cups fine plain breadcrumbs (I used plain white bread shredded and soaked in milk, BecR uses Progresso plain breadcrumbs whereas her grandmother used a ground up hard roll)
1/2 cup milk (to soak the shredded bread in)
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 lemon, zest of, finely chopped
1 lemon, juice of
3 tablespoons capers, chopped
3 tablespoons anchovy paste or crushed anchovy fillets (Alternatively you may use sardines or herring. I'm a Malaysian, so I used ground 'ikan bilis'. That's the Malaysian anchovy! Now available in powdery granule form.)
1/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt (any salt will do really)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Flour (for rolling the meatballs)
1 (32 oz) box chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup cider vinegar (I used apple juice as that was what I had in my storage)
1/2 cup good quality dry white wine (I used sparkling white grape juice)
10 black peppercorns
2 tablespoons capers
The remaining broth after simmering the Meatballs
1 lemon, zest of, small finely chopped
1 lemon, juice of (extract the whole juice)
1 cup good quality sour cream (I replaced this with evaporated milk. I mean, fruit juice, lemon and sour cream? How sour do you want this to be?)
1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley, for garnish
For the Meatballs
1. Shred the bread and soak in milk. Then add to the ground meat.
2. Mix the rest of the ingredients (except the flour) to the meat.
3. Mixture should be sticky.
4. Shape into balls and roll in the flour.
5. Carefully place the meatballs into the simmering Broth (DO NOT BOIL! The Meatballs will fall apart)
You can see the a few look better. The breaking ones were cooked a little bit too high on heat. The good ones were simmered on the right medium heat.
For the Broth
1. Heat all the ingredients in a pot.
2. Simmer over medium heat.
For the Sauce
1. Take the remaining Broth after cooking the meatballs.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients for the Sauce
3. Simmer and stir gently.
4. Pour over the Meatballs
Garnish with parsley
Serve with Potato Dumplings (if you have too much time in your hand) or simply boiled potatoes (if you're too lazy to make dumplings....xD)
Normally served with Rotkohl (Braised Spicy Red Cabbage)
So, my verdict?
I won't eat the Meatballs without the Sauce honestly. After all, the lemon juice made them a bit sour. Sour meatballs don't taste very nice to me. With the Sauce, the Meatballs tasted good.
However, I was a bit disappointed that after all the PRICEY ingredients I put together for the Meatballs, they actually tasted a bit like our CHEAP Malaysian 'chekodok bawang' or 'onion/anchovy fritters' which is a recipe for breakfast we make when we don't have that much money. Just flour, water, salt, dried anchovy and sliced onion. Fried and eaten with chili sauce.
Overall, I can still understand though why Bill Kaulitz raved about this dish and Ingo Schwichtenberg was proud to be a German homeboy.