Recipe: Pearl Meatballs

Recipe: Pearl Meatballs

2h prep | 25m cook

Last updated

Named because they look like enormous pearls (if you look really hard), Pearl Meatballs originated in China’s Hunan region. They are considered a holiday or special occasion dish and are often on banquet menus. Perfect for Chinese New Year and birthdays, or any day really!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 200g (1 cup) glutinous rice
  • 500 g pork mince – fatty if possible
  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 5 spring onions, white ends, finely chopped
  • 3 tsp ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • Chinese cabbage leaves (wombok) or baking paper to line steamers
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 red chilli, chopped

Prep: Rinse glutinous rice in cold water, drain and then place in a bowl and cover with fresh cold water. Soak for 2 hours.
Place shiitake mushrooms in warm water and soak for 2 hours. Drain (keep liquid for stocks), remove stalks, chop caps finely.
Line the bottom of a very large steamer (or 2 smaller) basket with cabbage leaves or baking paper.

Place all meatball ingredients in a bowl and mix or beat very well until the mixture is a little paler, sticky and fluffy. Place in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes.

Drain rice well and spread over a tray or plate. With wet hands, roll one scant tablespoon of the meatball mixture into a ball and then roll it in the rice – make sure that the rice sticks. You may have to apply a little pressure. Place the rice covered meatball into the steamer basket, then repeat with the remaining mixture, rinsing hands before rolling again. Make sure the meatballs do not touch and don't overfill the basket to ensure even cooking.

Cover steamer basket with lid and place over pot of cold water on the stove. Turn heat to high and steam the meatballs for 20 minutes. Turn heat off and allow to rest for 3-5 minutes. If properly cooked, the rice should look plump, less opaque, and pearl-like!

While the meatballs rest, combine all the dipping sauce ingredients together in a bowl, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Serve the meatballs directly from the steamer basket with the dipping sauce as a starter or make them a part of your next Lunar New Year feast!

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