Fried kibbeh bites are so delicious that we make them not just with leftover kibbeh, but with kibbeh made just for this purpose. Perfect with a cocktail.
There always seems to be a question around here about how much to make. Of anything. It doesn’t matter what the dish in question is. We’re in constant: is that enough romaine for the salad? Should we double or triple the mujadara/hushweh/eggs?
Kibbeh in particular entertains our quantity-question conversation whenever we make it. As a baseline, I can say that I have never made less than 2 pounds kibbeh meat. Unless you count the time I made it for two friends as an appetizer for a dinner party back in graduate school. They wanted to try the raw kibbeh, so I made a little plate maza-style and let them tip-toe up to it without the intimidation of our usual massive platter to scare them off (P.S., they ate; they enjoyed; they wished for more. Of course!).
The availability of freshly ground, butcher-ground kibbeh meat plays a big role in our ease of increasing kibbeh quantities. Get eight pounds of kibbeh meat for Christmas? No sweat, when you’re not the one trimming and grinding. When you live where we do, in the heart of Michigan where the Lebanese community is so prevalent, certain meat counters prepare the kibbeh meat for everyone.
So it’s a matter of a phone call:
“Hi, this is Maureen Abood (or Shaheen, either one and they know who’s calling. Who doesn’t love that?). I need 8 (or 6 or 4 or 2) pounds of kibbeh meat and 6 (or 4 or 2) pounds of househ meat for tomorrow.”
“Okey dokey, Maureen. See you then!”
The way we decide on the kibbeh quantity, in the end, takes into account how much we want to have leftover for sahnieh (baked flat in a pan, casserole-style). But I’ve been noticing that no matter how much we order lately, there isn’t nearly enough left for sahnieh, but there is enough left for something, and we wouldn’t dare throw any leftover away.
Mom always made flat patties with her leftover plate of kibbeh and pan fried them; simple (no stuffing necessary, as with the footballs) and delicious. When there isn’t even enough left over for patties, I make little fried kibbeh bites and we eat them up with a tahini dipping sauce.
We love these little ditties so much that fried kibbeh bites have become not just a leftover plan, but a kibbeh-goal. Add a salad and call it a meal. Or a glass of bubbly, and call fried kibbeh bites one of the greatest cocktail nibbles of all time.
Fried Kibbeh Bites with Tahini Dipping Sauce
Fried kibbeh bites are so delicious that we make them not just with leftover kibbeh, but with kibbeh made just for this purpose. They are excellent pan fried. Can you bake them? Sure. Remember that kibbeh has no fat in it, so if you bake them, it’s best to brush them with oil or butter before and after baking. A half-pound of kibbeh makes about 30 1-inch bites.
For the dipping sauce
- 1 cup tahini
- 1/2 cup labneh or plain Greek yogurt
- 1 small clove garlic, minced or grated
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Cold water, as needed
- Mint Salt, for finishing (or crushed dried mint + fine sea salt)
For the kibbeh bites
- Any amount leftover raw or freshly made kibbeh
- Oil for frying (neutral, such as safflower or canola, or olive oil)
First, make the dipping sauce so it is ready when the bites are hot out of the pan. In a small food processor, blend the tahini, labneh, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. Add water one tablespoon at a time until the sauce is a thick, dip-able liquid. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. The sauce can also be whisked by hand. Transfer the sauce in a small serving bowl and dust the top with mint salt.
Heat the oil in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat while you shape the kibbeh bites. The oil should register 350 degrees, and can be tested with a small bit of kibbeh; it should bubble up vigorously when it’s added to the oil.
Line a sheet pan with paper towel. Start with cold kibbeh straight from the refrigerator (if freshly made rather than leftover, chill for one hour). Shape about a tablespoon of kibbeh into a 1-inch ball, repeating this with all of the kibbeh and placing the balls on the lined sheet pan.
Fry the balls in batches, taking care not to crowd them, until they are deep golden brown. Turn them to brown them evenly all over.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the bites from the frying pan and transfer to a fresh paper towel-lined sheet pan.
Serve the bites hot with the tahini dipping sauce. This is finger-food, or if you prefer, serve them with cocktail toothpicks.