Snack? Yes, if you have two or three balls with a cup of tea. But if you eat half a dozen or more, that’s filling enough for lunch or dinner. I’m not joking.
See that? See how much meat you get? Combine that with all that rice that coats the meat, multiply it by six and there’s no way you’d still feel hungry.
Are these rice-coated meatballs difficult to make? No. But time is essential. You need to let the meat rest after adding the vegetables and seasonings. If you’ve heard the term “velveting”, leaving the meat to marinate in the fridge is the equivalent. The corn starch melds with the liquids and combination tightly binds the ground meat together so your meatballs don’t fall apart during assembly.
And you need to soak the rice too. Unless you do, they won’t cook completely during steaming. They need to absorb water first to plump up so that the grains cook sufficiently in the steam.
To assemble, form the ground meat into balls (not too large!) and roll them in the drained sticky rice. Pressing the grains into the meat helps them stay in place.
Then, you just steam the rice-coated meatballs. How many steamer baskets you need to prepare depends on the size of the steamer.
To prevent the rice from sticking to the steamer baskets, line them with non-stick paper. To avoid pools of condensation from collecting around the sticky rice meatballs during steaming, cut several small holes through the non-stick paper.
Full recipe below
Chinese sticky rice pearl meatballs
- 1 cup sticky rice
For the meatballs
- 300 grams ground pork - with at least 20% fat
- 2 tablespoons finely sliced scallions
- ¼ cup finely chopped carrot
- ½ teaspoon grated garlic
- ½ teaspoon grated ginger
- 2 shiitake - caps only, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- ½ teaspoon sesame seed oil
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
Soak the sticky rice
- Place the rice in a glass or ceramic bowl.
- Pour in enough water so that there is an inch of water above the surface of the rice.
- Cover the bowl loosely and allow the rice to soak in the fridge for at least eight hours.
Prepare the meatball mixture
- In a bowl, mix together the ground pork, carrot, scallions, shiitake, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper.
- In another bowl, mix the soy sauce, rice wine, oyster sauce, sesame seed oil, sugar and cornstarch to make a thin paste.
- Pour the starch mixture over the ground pork mixture. Mix well.
- Cover the bowl and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least four hours (see notes after the recipe).
Make the sticky rice meatballs
- Drain the sticky rice in a colander positioned over a bowl. Leave to drain while you make the meatballs.
- Using a small ice cream scoop or teaspoon, scoop enough of the ground pork mixture to make two-inch meatballs.
- Roll each meatball in the drained sticky rice, pressing the rice grains onto the entire surface of the balls.
- Line two steamer baskets with non-stick paper.
- Place the rice-coated meatballs in the paper-lined steamer baskets, about an inch apart to allow space for the rice to expand.
- Steam over medium heat for 30 to 35 minutes.
- Serve the meatballs with chili oil sauce on the side for dipping.