“Pearl Balls” are pork meat balls, seasoned with ginger and soy sauce, rolled in soaked rice, and then steamed. I forget when I first discovered these treats, but I always go back to my 1968 The Cooking of China Time-Life Books cookbook when I get a hankering for these. (I have admitted here before that I love meat balls so my current hankering isn’t out of character.)
The recipe below is adapted for my tastes. I believe the fresh ginger and water chestnuts to be essential in Pearl Balls, and I buy the best quality ground pork that I can find. These can be used as appetizers or to round out a Chinese-style meal.
serves about 4 as part of a Chinese-style meal
- 1/2 cup rice, preferably a glutinous or starchy rice like a sushi rice
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1/2 cup finely chopped water chestnuts
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup finely chopped mushrooms (use fresh white or shitake mushrooms, or reconstituted dried shitake mushrooms)
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3/4 teaspoon salt (adjust this amount to your own taste)
- 1 lightly beaten egg
Start the rice soaking in a cup of water before you begin the Pearl Balls. About an hour’s soak is enough.
Combine the pork with the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Form the mixture into 1-inch meat balls.
Drain the soaked rice through a strainer and lay it out on a paper towel. Roll one pork ball at a time in the rice, pressing down gently but firmly as you roll so that the rice grains adhere to the meat.
Steam the pork balls for about 30 minutes. I use an electric steamer; a bamboo steamer set in a wok also works.
Serve at once! (Although, I enjoyed one of these cold out of the refrigerator the next day.)
Preparing the Pearl Balls:
Cooked Pearl Balls along with Egg Rolls in Phyllo Dough: