1/2 of 1 full (11 oz. can) mandarin oranges, smashed with their juices
2-3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
Optional: toasted sesame seeds, green onions, rice for serving
IF USING THE OVEN: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan. IF USING THE CROCKPOT: lightly oil the cooking insert. In a large bowl, add ground beef, Panko breadcrumbs, minced onion, egg, coconut milk, ginger, salt and pepper (2 teaspoons salt & 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Mix with your clean hands until just combined. Rub a little oil on your hands and then roll the meat mixture into 1-inch balls. Place meatballs in prepared baking pan or slow cooker.
Bake 20 minutes in the preheated oven OR set slow cooker to low and bake, covered with sauce, 3-4 hours.**
To make the sauce: In a saucepan over medium heat, add the oil, chopped peppers and garlic. Sauté until tender, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the onion powder, vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Stir to combine and then add the oranges and juice. Bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, stir the cornstarch and water together and then whisk into the sauce. Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes. Serve over meatballs with sesame seeds and green onions to garnish. Serve all over rice if desired.