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Coconut Meatballs with Sweet-Sour Sauce

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It’s the last weekend before Christmas, and if you haven’t planned your holiday menu yet, here’s an easy Coconut Meatballs with Sweet Sour Sauce to put on the table. Thank goodness for friends who write Filipino cookbooks. Just like my fellow culinary enthusiast, Regina Tolentino Newport who recently launched Coconut Kitchen Appetizers and Main Dishes.

I’ll admit I am nowhere near completion for my Christmas goals. The tree is up. The Filipino capiz parol (lantern) is lit and glowing. The outdoor lights have been put up by my husband. But that’s it. If your house is like mine… gifts not yet wrapped, in full view laying on the couch, rolls of wrappers and ribbons strewn around…then don’t fret, you are not alone. If you’re like me, with the Christmas cards stacked up on your desk, waiting to be written on and mailed…then don’t panic. And most of all, if you’re like me and haven’t gone food shopping yet, stay calm and breathe. It’s the holidays. We are all supposed to enjoy each moment and the festivities around us.

While Regee was writing and creating her cookbook a few years ago, she asked if I would contribute my Adobong Dilaw recipe (page 104). I was honored and delighted. When her cookbook finally released this fall, I purchased a copy from Regee when she returned to America, after a successful launch in the Philippines.

How wonderful it was to browse through the Coconut Kitchen cookbook, which will now be my new kitchen helper. There are over 128 pages of recipes from appetizers to main dishes, all coconut-based. Regee calls the coconut the “tree of life” and adds “because all the parts of the tree – from top to bottom—are used to sustain human life. The Philippines is among the top coconut-producing countries in the world together with Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Brazil.”

When I get my hands on a new cookbook, I immediately bookmark the recipes that look easy and doable for my busy life. In Regee’s cookbook, I found numerous recipe options, so I will be cooking from it for a long time. The recipes range from vegetables, seafoods, beef and pork, chicken and duck to dressings, dips and sauces. The first half of Regee’s cookbook has recipes from contributors – all friends, family and colleagues in the Philippine culinary world. The next half consists of Regee’s own recipes she developed.

What I liked about this recipe I picked: Coconut Meatballs in Sweet Sour Sauce is that I had all the ingredients in my refrigerator and pantry. The versatile ingredient, coconut, in this case, shredded coconut meat was mixed into the ground meat with the rest of the seasonings. The slivers of coconut meat gave the meatballs its succulence plus a distinct savory flavor. While the meatballs were baking in the oven, I got busy making the sweet-sour sauce. Since I am familiar with making this agrio-dulce sauce the way Filipinos love it, it was a cinch from there.

Plating the entire dish on a bandejado (oval platter) and pouring the glistening, bright red, sweet sauce over it gave me so much satisfaction because it had been a straightforward process from start to finish. The garnishings gave the dish the festive touch. I knew right then and there this would be a superb entrée to add to our traditional Christmas dishes.

No need to panic. You’ve got this season all worked out. In no time, you’ll have your feet up, a drink in your hand, listening to Christmas carols and savoring every minute. That’s what Christmas should be like.

Coconut Meatballs with Sweet-Sour Sauce

This recipe for Coconut Meatballs with Sweet-Sour Sauce is the kind of dish you can serve for a festive family party during the holidays or just be a meal by itself on weekends. This recipe used slivers of coconut meat mixed into the meatballs. Typically, in the Philippines, it is easy to find fresh coconuts and grate the fresh meat for use in this recipe. But since I live in suburban New Jersey with no fresh coconut trees around me, then I used the frozen coconut meat, which are easy to find in Asian markets. The familiar favorite agrio-dulce or sweet-sour sauce poured all over the baked meatballs makes this an enticing-looking entrée that will be forever on your holiday menu. This recipe was adapted from the Coconut Kitchen Appetizers and Main Dishes Cookbook by Regina Tolentino Newport (Anvil Publishing Philippines). Serves 4 to 6. This recipe makes about 30 pieces of one-inch sized meatballs.
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Filipino
Keyword: Coconut Meatballs Sweet-sour Sauce
Servings: 4 people
Author: Asian in America


  • Large sheet pan
  • Large sauce pan: 12 to 14 inches diameter


  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut meat fresh or frozen (if using frozen, thaw and drain liquid)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 3 stalks scallion whites chopped
  • 3 whole eggs beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon breadcrumbs regular-flavored
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup sliced onions
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots sliced in strips
  • 1 cup sliced red or green bell peppers sliced in strips
  • 10 whole cherry tomatoes sliced in halves
  • 1/2 cup pineapple chunks fresh or canned (if canned use the juice for the sauce)
  • 1/4 cup tomato ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons water for dissolving cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley for garnish
  • 4 to 6 slices fresh cucumber for garnish
  • for serving: boiled rice


  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare a large baking sheet or a half sheet pan measuring 18 x 13 inches with a 1/2-inch height on the sides ( or use 2 quarter sheet pans of 9 x 13 inches) and line each pan with parchment or baking paper. Set aside.
  • To make the meatballs: In a large mixing bowl, combine the meatball ingredients: ground beef and pork, shredded coconut, onion, scallions, eggs, breadcrumbs, flour, salt and black pepper. Incorporate ingredients well. Shape the meat into 1-inch sized meatballs and arrange them in rows, half an inch apart, on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes till meatballs are cooked. Take out of the oven and set aside.
  • To make the sweet-sour sauce: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, vinegar, pineapple juice and water. Mix well and set aside.
  • Over medium heat, in a large-sized saucepan, sauté the garlic and ginger for two minutes. Add the onions and carrots. Continue cooking for four minutes more. To this mixture, add the bell peppers, tomatoes and pineapple chunks. Stir and cook for 2 minutes more.
  • Add the ketchup into the saucepan. Combine with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Pour the vinegar-flour mixture. In about 3 to 5 minutes, the whole sauce mixture comes to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixed with water. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes more. Stir to make sure there are no lumps and sauce is smooth but thick.
  • Place the baked meatballs into this saucepan with the sweet-sour sauce. Simmer for about 2 minutes. Turn off heat and plate the dish on a large serving platter. Garnish with sprigs of fresh parsley and cucumber slices. Serve warm with rice.
  • Cook's Comments: You can also bake the meatballs ahead and freeze them. On the day you serve it, thaw then heat the meatballs into the simmering sweet-sour sauce. In the original recipe, the author used coconut flour (for the meatballs) and coconut sugar (for the sweet-sour sauce). Feel free to use these coconut-based ingredients if available. I have added these ingredients to my Amazon affiliate links above the recipe for your shopping convenience.
  • About the Author and her cookbook: Maria Regina "Regee" Tolentino Newport is a Cordon Bleu graduate (summa cum laude) of the Orlando Culinary Academy in Florida. Her decision to attend culinary school was a huge career change after retirement from the International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C. Regee founded and served as the first president of the Culinary Historians of the Philippines (CHOP), a Manila-based non-profit organization dedicated to the study, preservation and promotion of the culinary heritage of the Philippines. She divides her time between Manila and Washington D.C. Ms. Newport's cookbook "Coconut Kitchen" brings many ways to make appetizers and main dishes healthy and delicious. Her cookbook features coconut-based recipes the author developed as well as from prominent personalities in the Philippine culinary world.
  • How to purchase this cookbook: If you're in the Philippines, this cookbook is available where most books are sold. If you live in the United States, please email the author at [email protected] to purchase a copy.
  • Disclosure: This is not and ad and I was not paid to review this cookbook. This was a personal purchase I made. I will gladly recommend this cookbook to anyone who enjoys coconut-based recipes of Filipino dishes. Photographs of the book and the recipe are by me.
  • Hello, Friends! All the images and content on this blog are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED and owned by my media company Besa-Quirino LLC. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to copy, scrape, lift, frame, plagiarize or use my photos and  recipe content I wrote, on your website,books, films, television shows or videos  without my permission. If you want to republish this recipe or content on another website, video, news article,or media outlets mentioned above please ASK my permission, re-write it in your own words and simply link back to this blog to give proper attribution. It’s the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]
  • Disclosure: As a participant in the Amazon Affiliate program, some blog posts contain links to products used in the recipe and sold on Amazon. The price stays the same for the readers who wish to purchase these products on my links. I earn a small commission from Amazon which helps maintain the blog expenses. Thanks in advance for your support.

Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.

Did you like this recipe?I have more Filipino Instant Pot recipes in my newest cookbook Instant Filipino Recipes: My Mother’s Traditional Philippine Cooking in A Multicooker Pot by Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino. I also have more classic recipes inspired by my mother’s cooking in my popular cookbook: My Mother’s Philippine Recipes. If you’re learning how to cook Filipino food or a fan of Philippine cuisine, buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.

Copyright Notice: Hello, Friends! Please DO NOT LIFT OR PLAGIARIZE my original recipe, stories, photos or videos. All the images and content on this blog are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED and owned by my media company Besa-Quirino LLC. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to copy, scrape, lift, frame, plagiarize or use my photos, essays, stories and recipe content on your websites, books, films, television shows, videos, without my permission. If you wish to republish this recipe or content on media outlets mentioned above, please ASK MY PERMISSION, or re-write it in your own words and link back to my blog AsianInAmericaMag.com to give proper attribution. It is the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]

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