Shanghainese pearl balls

Steamed pearl balls

Hmmm this post has been sitting in my drafts for months. Remember when Celeste, Penny and I were doing Meal to Share? It seems to have fallen by the wayside – totally understandable because we’ve all had so much going on in our lives. But perhaps after things settle down next year we may resurrect it…?

Steamed pearl balls

I’ve decided to share this post anyway, because I like it! These steamed pearl balls were made for the Shanghainese theme. Admittedly, I don’t know much about Shanghainese food, being much more familiar with the ubiquitous Cantonese, but I gave making an entree a shot.

Steamed pearl balls

These steamed pearl balls are made by making a seasoned a pork mince mixture, rolling into meatballs, and then covered the meatballs in soaked glutinous rice. After that, they’re steamed until cooked and served with soy sauce. They’re very easy to make, as long as you remember to soak the glutinous rice the night before.

After steaming, the rice becomes slightly translucent and “pearly” – hence the name. Aren’t names of Chinese food so poetic sometimes? They taste good too, and the seasoned pork meatballs covered in the soft, sticky rice are a delicious change from normal meatballs.

Steamed pearl balls

Steamed pearl balls

Makes about 24 balls, depending on size

Roughly adapted from Asian dumpling tips

3/4 cup glutinous rice
500g pork mince
Thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 large spring onion, finely chopped
2 water chestnuts, finely diced
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper
1 teaspoon corn flour, or as needed

Soak the glutinous rice in water for at least 6-8 hours, but preferably overnight.

Just before you make the pearl balls, drain the rice well in a colander or sieve. Set aside for now.

In a large bowl, combine the pork mince, ginger, soy sauce, rice wine, spring onion, water chestnuts, salt, pepper, egg white, sesame oil and corn flour.

Take about a tablespoon of the pork mixture and form into a ball. Roll lightly in the glutinous rice until the meat is covered with rice grains, and place on a heatproof plate. Continue with all the rest of the pork mixture, placing the balls slightly apart – they will expand when cooked.

Place your plate into a steamer, cover and steam the pearl balls over boiling water for about 25-35 minutes, or until they are cooked through. You may need to steam them in two batches.

Serve them hot with soy sauce.