My Chinese drawing classmate Jane inspired me to try out this dim sum dish. Why are they called pearl meatballs? This is because after steaming, the rice coating makes the meatballs look like giant pearls from a distant. The first time I made it, the meatballs were gigantic, and way too salty. This time around, they all turned out pretty good. I’m happy with the result, so… time to enjoy my pearls!
Pearl Meatball Recipe 珍珠丸子 (makes about 50 pieces, fish ball size)
1 1/4 cup glutinous rice– soaked at least 4 hours
1 1/2 lbs ground pork
1 tbsp dried shrimp– minced– see note below
2 cloves garlic– finely chopped
1 egg white
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp ground white pepper
1 tbsp cooking wine
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp tapioca starch
2 tbsp water
- After soaking glutinous rice, drain out as much water as possible. Transfer to a deep dish plate.
- In a deep bowl, season the pork with the meat seasoning, then add in remaining ingredients(except egg white) to mix well. Use a pair of chopsticks/wooden spoon/flat rice scooper, stir the meat in a circular motion(same direction), until it binds and turns sticky. Add in egg white and continue stirring motion, until it mixes well and sticky again.
- Scoop some ground pork , lightly shape to a small ball of fish ball size or US quarter(25 cents) size. Roll the meatball in the rice so the rice coats the surface, press to stick the rice. Shape it to a ball again if necessary. Repeat until all meat are finished.
- Gently transfer coated meatballs to a steam tray with hole (do not place meatballs on a plate–see note below). Steam on high heat for 10 minutes per batch. Do not put too many meatballs in one tray, as there must be room for the steam to come up. Transfer pearl meatballs to a plate. Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce (chili sauce, venegar, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce etc..)
- Optional ingredients: Personally, I would love adding some chopped shrimps, dried mushrooms (soaked to soften of course), water chestnut, green onion for more flavor and texture. However, since my kids are picky about these stuff so I just skip all the goodies 😦
- Dried shrimps and salt: Since dried shrimps add saltiness to the meat, take care not to add in too much salt– I added too much dried shrimps in my first trial, ended up with pretty salty pearls…
- Steam tray: In my first trial, I steamed pearl meatballs in a greased metal plate, but because there’s no hole on the plate for the liquid to drain during steaming, the bottom of my pearls were all mushy rice. So, I thought of steaming the pearls directly on the steam tray with holes, this way the liquid can drip back to the boiling water below, keeping the rice from getting mushy.