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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 Meatballs 珍珠丸子

Pearl Meatballs 珍珠丸子

Pearl Meatballs 珍珠丸子

Pearl Meatballs 珍珠丸子

Pearl Meatball Recipe 珍珠丸子 (makes about 50 pieces, fish ball size)

Ingredients:
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

meat seasoning:
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp ground white pepper
1 tbsp cooking wine
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp tapioca starch
2 tbsp water

Method:

  1. After soaking glutinous rice, drain out as much water as possible. Transfer to a deep dish plate.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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..)

Regina’s Note:

  • 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.
Pearl Meatballs 珍珠丸子-- before steaming

Pearl Meatballs 珍珠丸子-- before steaming

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In Malaysia there are lots of “kuih” (cakes sold in small pieces) made with glutinous rice and coconut– “pulut inti” is one of them. People eat it as breakfast, tea time snack or dessert. Traditional pulut inti are glutinous rice with sweetened grated coconut on the top, then wrapped with banana leave to a pyramid shape with a square or rectangle bottom. I cheated by using cling wrap instead of banana leaves :-). Also, some pulut inti sold in Malaysia are bluish in color– this is because people sometimes use blue pea flower to dye the rice. I don’t have such flower here for the coloring, but I do have pandan extract that gives green color. The first time I made these treats, I over mixed pandan extract into the rice, so the rice came out very evenly green. So this time I just slightly mixed in pandan extract, and it turned out very beautiful with that marble look– just like a piece of jade with all kinds of green and shade.

Glutinous Rice Packets with Coconut "Pulut Inti"

Glutinous Rice Packets with Coconut "Pulut Inti"

Pulut Inti Recipe (makes about 38 bite size pieces)

Ingredients:

for Glutinous Rice:
5 cups glutinous rice– soaked for 1 1/2 to 2 hours
1/2 tsp salt
2 cans (5.6 oz/165ml each) coconut milk
2 tbsp water
1/2 tsp green pandan extract (Butterfly brand preferred)

for Coconut topping:
1 pack (4 oz) desiccated coconut
1 cylinder block coconut sugar (“gula Melaka”)– about 3 inch diameter
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
200 ml water

Method:

  1. Prepare glutinous rice: drain the rice, then add salt, coconut milk and water. Mix well. Drizzle in green pandan extract and stir briefly. This is to create a marble look on the rice so don’t over stir it. Lay rice evenly on a deep dish steam tray, steam for 20-30 minute over high heat. Set aside.
  2. Prepare coconut topping: In a small sauce pan dissolve sugars in water, then strain to remove impurities in coconut sugar. Return sugar syrup back to the pot, add in coconut and salt. Cook on low heat until coconut is tender and fragrant, and the liquid is almost dry. Stir to prevent burning at the bottom.
  3. To assemble, line mini muffin molds with small pieces of cling wrap. Put in about 1 tsp of coconut at the bottom of muffin molds, then pack in about 2-3 tbsp of glutinous rice on top of coconut. Wrap up with cling wrap. Invert the packets so the coconut is on the top of the rice.

Regina’s Note:

  • Preparing coconut topping: taste for sweetness. Add in some brown sugar if necessary for sweetness and darker brown color.

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