Pearl Meatballs

These tasty steamed meatballs coated in sticky rice are very popular on Chinese dim sum menus. Sticky rice (also called glutinous or sweet rice) is a starchy, short grained rice that requires soaking before cooking and becomes quite sticky (hence the name) when steamed. A savory Chinese style minced pork filling is rolled in the raw sticky rice and steamed until the rice grains swell and become tender. The versatile meat mixture is the same filling I use in my wontons, potstickers and steamed dumplings or just dropped into a gingery chicken broth after rolling into small balls. Served with a vinegary soy dipping sauce, these make an interesting appetizer. Add a stir fried vegetable like baby bok choy on the side to make them a main dish

1 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sherry
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg white
8 water chestnuts drained well and very finely chopped
2 tablespoons very finely chopped scallions
2 teaspoons fresh ginger,grated
1 teaspoon fresh garlic,grated
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup glutinous rice washed and soaked for 3-6 hours

Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup good quality soy sauce (such as Kimlan)
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons light brown sugar sugar
¼ to ½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 green onion finely minced

Combine all of the ingredients, except the rice in a large bowl and mix well with your hands. Refrigerate, covered for 1 hour to firm mixture up.

Form pork mixture into 1-inch balls. The mixture will be soft but will firm up as the rice is cooked. Roll each meatball in rice pressing the rice in to coat.

Arrange meatballs on an oiled or lined steamer rack an inch apart. Bring water in base of steamer or wok to a boil. Set steamer rack over water, cover, and steam for 20 minutes over rapidly boiling water. Reduce heat to low and steam until rice is tender, about 30 minutes longer or until rice grains are tender.

Remove rack from steamer and transfer to a serving platter. Serve hot with dipping sauce. Makes about 20 pearl balls.

To make the dipping sauce combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, sugar, sesame oil and green onions in a small bowl; whisk to dissolve sugar.

  1. I’ve never had these. Interesting! Your photos are awesome!!

  2. Mmmm….my favourite. Yours look perfect and delicious.

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