- Dish type
These steamed Chinese rice balls are not only pretty looking but also really delicious! Definitely one of my favourite dishes!
3 people made this
- 100g sticky rice
- 1 egg
- salt to taste
- 1 small (3cm) ginger, minced
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 120g pork mince
- 2 tablespoons cornflour
- 1-2 tablespoons pork or chicken stock
- a few wolfberries or goji berries, to garnish
MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:30min ›Extra time:3hr soaking › Ready in:3hr50min
- Rinse the sticky rice well and let soak in water for at least 3 hours.
- Beat egg in a large bowl. Mix in salt, ginger and soy sauce. Add minced pork, cornflour and stock. Stir well in one direction until combined for about 5-6 minutes.
- Boil enough water for steaming in a wok or a pot.
- Meanwhile, drain the sticky rice and set aside. Roll the meat mixture into bite-size small balls. Roll the balls in the sticky rice until they are coated completely with rice. Place 6 balls in the steamer.
- Place the steamer into the wok and steam for about 30 minutes. Turn off the heat. Remove the balls, garnish with wolfberries and serve.
Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(2)
Reviews in English (1)
Pearl Balls (Steamed meatballs in sticky rice, 珍珠丸子)
When I was a kid, both of my parents worked and neither really had time to cook complicated things for dinner. So my grandma used to make meat dishes for us, to free my mom from spending time in the kitchen after a long, busy day. She would cook various dishes in large batches, transfer them to small bowls to cool, bag and freeze them in meal-sized batches, then pass them to my parents every few weeks. She was very proud of her cooking, and for good reason. Her braised pork ribs, braised pork feet, beef and tendon stew, and lion’s head meatballs were amazing. They tasted much better than what you’d get in a restaurant.
Every morning, my mom would take out a prepared meat dish to thaw, then reheat it by steaming right before dinner. At the same time, she’d cook some rice in the rice cooker and prepare one or two stir fried veggie dishes and a simple soup. The whole dinner usually took 30 to 40 minutes to get ready. Just like this, I grew up with very satisfying and nutritious meals every day.
Among the meat dishes my grandma made, the pearl balls are one of my favorites. We also call them snow meatballs in my family. They’re basically steamed pork meatballs, covered in sticky rice. The sticky rice is cooked until translucent, as if covered in snow. The meatballs are very tender and juicy, with a rich umami from the dried shrimp, toasted sesame oil, and fresh herbs. The glutinous rice is soaked with meat juice. Rich and gooey, we didn’t need any dipping sauce to enjoy them.
When it comes to making pearl balls, I’m obsessed with flavor and stick to the ingredients my grandma used to use. That’s the reason you’ll find this version has a longer ingredient list than any other recipe out there. The recipe also calls for pre-soaking the glutinous rice and dried shrimp a day ahead, instead of just a few hours. I tried soaking the rice for less time, but the finished meatballs just didn’t taste right.
On the other hand, I took a shortcut in order to make the cooking process less tedious – I used a food processor. You can make this dish without one, but a food processor will save tons of chopping time and give you perfectly consistent meatballs.
I have attached numerous cooking notes at the end of the recipe, so I won’t repeat them here in the post. However, I do want to emphasize that you need a relatively fatty grind of meat to make the dish work. I tried using ground turkey, and I won’t say it tasted bad, but it was a bit off for me. Just like with a good sausage, you need 25% to 30% fat content to make it GOOD.
If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it once you’ve tried it, and take a picture and tag it #omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!
How to mix meatball mixture just right
The trick to making sure everything is well combined when you mix your meatballs mixture is to add all your condiments and seasoning first, mix it up and then add the ground meat. This way, you won’t have pockets of flavor. I’ve demonstrated this in the recipe below.
These meatballs can be baked or pan fried. I prefer baking them because they can crumble or lose their shape while cooking on the pan. That’s because these are really soft and juicy and that’s what makes them so perfect really!
I serve it just as is or with a bowl of sticky rice topped with scraped spoonfuls of sauce. I’m warning you that these are really hard to stay away from. But meatballs usually are. I usually make a bunch and freeze some (before tossing them in the sauce) for top ups or emergency party appetizers. Because all good things should be loved and re-loved.
So go on, indulge that Thai craving with a magnificent bowl of sticky Thai meatballs, you’ll be a fan forever. I know I am!
Stir the pork filling well, just like the dumpling filling, I added lotus root in it, or I can add yam cubes as I like
Stir the pork filling well, just like the dumpling filling,
Glutinous rice cooking, just like cooking rice, the water is a little less, the taste is good
Glutinous rice cooking, just like cooking rice,
The rice is cooked, stir the rice and let it cool
Stir the rice and mince together and use
Stir the rice and mince together and use
Take the dried starch in a small bowl and roll the balls together (no frying pan when fried)
Take the dried starch in a small bowl
That’s it, and then start to fry
That’s it, and then start to fry
Add an appropriate amount of Yuhuang Oil and U-flavored peanut oil to the pan, put the balls in it and fry them until they are golden brown.
Add an appropriate amount of Yuhuang Oil
It’s the dumpling that the outside crispy and tender
It’s the dumpling that the outside crispy and tender
Finished product, Finally, you get home cooking pork glutinous rice balls.
- Meat filling:
- 4 tablespoons (75 g) ground pork
- ½ teaspoon dark soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon light soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 drops sesame oil
- Pinch of ground white pepper
- 2 tablespoons Ginger-Scallion Water (see below)
- 2 tablespoons pi dong, diced
- Sesame filling:
- ⅓ cup (45 g) black sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon (10 g) white sesame seeds
- ¼ cup (50 g) sugar
- 1½ teaspoons dried Osmanthus petals, 桂花 gui hua
- Pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons pork lard, duck fat, or butter
- Greens filling:
- ½ teaspoon salt, plus more for the cooking water
- ½ pound (225 g) Chinese spinach, 油菜 yu choy, or other green, like baby bok choy
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon minced ginger
- 2 tablespoons pork lard
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- Rice ball dough:
- 2 cups (250 g) water-based glutinous rice flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 cup (240 ml) warm water
For an impressive holiday dish, these Pearl Meatballs are actually pretty easy to whip up. But to achieve the ultimate texture, I suggest that you hand-chop the ground pork using the techniques from our “How to Grind Meat without a Meat Grinder” post to chop the pork until there are no visible chunks. This makes for a silky meatball.
It’s also important to line the steamer with parchment paper, bamboo leaves, or leaves of napa cabbage to prevent the meatballs from sticking. Any lost rice that falls off the meatballs will yield cracked pearls! Not very prosperous for the new year. I used the bamboo leaves, which I had on hand and add great aroma.
Include these Pearl Meatballs in your Chinese New Year menu––they are a feast for the eyes and the stomachs of your guests! Happy New Year, everyone!
As it diffused to other regions of Asia over many centuries, zongzi became known by various names in different languages and cultures, including Pya Htote in Burmese-speaking areas (such as Myanmar), Nom Chang in Cambodia, Machang in Philippines, Bachang in Indonesia, Khanom Chang in Laos and Ba-chang in Thailand.
Vietnamese cuisine also has a variation on this dish known as Bánh ú tro or Bánh tro. [ citation needed ]
In Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Taiwan, zongzi is known as bakcang, bacang, or zang (from Hokkien Chinese: 肉粽 Pe̍h-ōe-jī: bah-chàng , as Hokkien is commonly used among overseas Chinese). Similarly, zongzi is more popularly known as machang among Chinese Filipinos in the Philippines.
In some areas of the United States, particularly California and Texas, zongzi are often known as Chinese tamales.  
In Mauritius, zongzi, typically called zong, is a traditional dish which continues to be eaten by the Sino-Mauritian and by the Overseas Chinese community. It is especially eaten on the Dragon Boat Festival, a traditional festive event, to commemorate the death of Qu Yuan. 
Zongzi (sticky rice dumplings) are traditionally eaten during the Duanwu Festival (Doubler Fifth Festival) which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, and commonly known as the "Dragon Boat Festival" in English. The festival falls each year on a day in late-May to mid-June in the International calendar.
What has become established popular belief amongst the Chinese is that zongzi has since the days of yore been a food-offering to commemorate the death of Qu Yuan, a famous poet from the kingdom of Chu who lived during the Warring States period.  Known for his patriotism, Qu Yuan tried to counsel his king to no avail, and drowned himself in the Miluo River in 278 BC.  [a] The kind-hearted Chinese people in the same era as Qu Yuan were grateful for Qu Yuan's talent and loyalty to serve the country. They cast rice dumplings into the Miluo River on the day when Qu Yuan was thrown into the river every year, hoping that the fish in the river would eat the rice dumplings without harming Qu Yuan's body.
Qu Yuan died in 278 BC, but the earliest known documented association between him and the zong dumplings occurs much later, in the mid 5th century (Shishuo Xinyu Chinese: 世说新语 , or A New Account of the Tales of the World).,  And a widely observed popular cult around him did not develop until the 6th century AD, as far as can be substantiated by evidence.  But by the 6th century, sources attest to the offering of zongzi on the Double Fifth Festival (5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar) being connected with the figure of Qu Yuan. 
As for the origin myth, a fable recounts that the people commemorated the drowning death of Qu Yuan on the Double Fifth day by casting rice stuffed in bamboo tubes but the practice changed in the early Eastern Han dynasty (1st century AD),  [b] when the ghost of Qu Yuan appeared in a dream to a man named Ou Hui (Chinese: 區回, 歐回 ) and instructed him to seal the rice packet with chinaberry (or Melia) leaves and bind it with colored string, to repel the dragons (jialong) that would otherwise consume them. However, this fable is not attested in contemporary (Han Period) literature, and only known to be recorded centuries later in Wu Jun [zh] ( 呉均 Wu chün , d. 520)'s Xu Qixieji ( 『續齊諧記』 Hsü-ch'ih-hsieh-chih).    
Also, Qu Yuan had (dubiously, by "folklore" or by common belief) become connected with the boat races held on the Double Fifth, datable by another 6th century source.  《荊楚歲時記》(6th c.), under the "Fifth Day of the Fifth Month" heading.  Modern media has printed a version of the legend which says that the locals had rushed out in dragonboats to try retrieve his body and threw packets of rice into the river to distract the fish from eating the poet's body. 
The practice of eating zongzi on the Double Fifth or Summer Solstice is concretely documented in literature from around the Late Han (2nd–3rd centuries). [c]
At the end of the Eastern Han dynasty, people made zong, also called jiao shu (Chinese: 角黍 , lit. "horned/angled millet") by wrapping sticky rice with the leaves of the Zizania latifolia plant (Chinese: 菰 pinyin: gu , a sort of wild rice  ) and boiling them in lye (grass-and-wood ash water).  The name jiao shu may imply "ox-horn shape",  or cone-shape. That the zong or ziao shu prepared in this way was eaten on the occasion of the Double Fifth (Duanwu) is documented in works as early as the Fengsu Tongyi (Chinese: 風俗通義 , 195 AD).  These festive rice dumplings are also similarly described in General Zhou Chu (236–297)'s Fengtu Ji (simplified Chinese: 风土记 traditional Chinese: 風土記 , "Record of Local Folkways"    Various sources claim that this Fengtu Ji contains the first documented reference regarding zongzi,   even though it dates somewhat later than the Fengsu Tongyi.
In the Jin dynasty ( 晋 , 266–420 AD), zongzi was officially a Dragon Boat Festival food.   Anecdotally, an official called Lu Xun [zh] from the Jin dynasty once sent zongzi which used yizhiren [zh] (Chinese: 益智仁 , the fruit of Alpinia oxyphylla or sharp leaf galangal) as additional filling this type of dumpling was then dubbed "yizhi zong" (Chinese: 益智粽 , literally "dumplings to increase wisdom").   Later in the Northern and Southern dynasties, mixed zongzi appeared, the rice was filled with fillings such as meat, chestnuts, jujubes, red beans,   and they were exchanged as gifts to relatives and friends.  
In the 6th century (Sui to Early Tang dynasty), the dumpling is also being referred to as "tubular zong" (Chinese: 筒糉/筒粽 pinyin: tongzong ), and they were being made by being packed inside "young bamboo" tubes.  [d] The 6th century source for this states that the dumplings were eaten on the Summer Solstice,  (instead of the Double Fifth).
In the Tang dynasty, the shape of zongzi appeared conical and diamond-shaped, and the rice which was used to make zongzi was as white as jade.  "Datang zongzi" (i.e. the zongzi eaten in Tang Imperial period) was also recorded in some classical-era Japanese literature,  which was heavily influenced by Tang Chinese culture.
In the Northern Song Dynasty period, the "New augmentation to the Shuowen Jiezi" (Chinese: 説文新附 pinyin: Shouwen xinfu ) glossed zong as rice with reed leaves wrapped around it. [e]  Mijiian Zong (zongzi with glacé fruit) was also popular in the Song dynasty.  Also during the Song Dynasty, there were many preserved fruit zongzi. At this time also appeared a pavilion filled with zongzi for advertising, which showed that eating zongzi in the Song dynasty had been very fashionable.  [ better source needed ]
In the Yuan and Ming dynasties, the wrapping material had changed from gu (wild rice) leaf to ruo ( 箬 the Indocalamus tessellatus bamboo) leaf, and then to reed leaves,  [ dubious – discuss ] and filled with materials like bean paste, pine nut kernel, pork, walnut,  jujube,and so on. The varieties of zongzi were more diverse.
During the Ming and Qing dynasties, zongzi became auspicious food. At that time, scholars who took the imperial examinations would eat "pen zongzi", which was specially given to them at home, before going to the examination hall. Because it looked long and thin like a writing brush, the pronunciation of "pen zongzi" is similar to the Chinese word for "pass", which was for good omen. Ham zongzi appeared in the Qing dynasty.  [ better source needed ]
Until now, every year in early May of the lunar calendar, the Chinese people will soak glutinous rice, wash the leaves and wrap up zongzi.  The types of zongzi are more variety.
The shapes of zongzi vary,  and range from being approximately tetrahedral in southern China to an elongated cone in northern China. In the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, plastic mock-ups of rectangular zongzi are displayed as an example of the zongzi eaten by Chiang Kai-shek. Wrapping zongzi neatly is a skill that is passed down through families, as are the recipes. Making zongzi is traditionally a family event of which everyone helps out.
While traditional zongzi are wrapped in bamboo leaves,  the leaves of lotus,  reed,  maize, banana,  canna, shell ginger and pandan sometimes are used as substitutes in other countries. Each kind of leaf imparts its own unique aroma and flavor to the rice.
The fillings used for zongzi vary from region to region, but the rice used is almost always glutinous rice (also called "sticky rice" or "sweet rice"). Depending on the region, the rice may be lightly precooked by stir-frying or soaked in water before using. In the north, fillings are mostly red bean paste and tapioca or taro. Northern style zongzi tend to be sweet  and dessert-like. In the North of China, zonzi filled with jujubes are popular. 
Southern-style zongzi, however, tend to be more savoury or salty.  Fillings of Southern-style zongzi include ham,  salted duck egg, pork belly, taro, shredded pork or chicken, Chinese sausage, pork fat, and shiitake mushrooms. 
Zongzi need to be steamed or boiled for several hours depending on how the rice is prepared prior to being added, along with the fillings. However, as the modes of zongzi styles have traveled and become mixed, today one can find all kinds of zongzi at traditional markets, and their types are not confined to which side of the Yellow River they originated from.
Sticky Chicken Meatballs
THIS!! I love these Sticky Chicken Meatballs, like loooove them! They are quick to make and bursting with flavor. I serve them over rice and it’s an easy dinner my whole family enjoys.
While I made the meatballs, my 13-year-old daughter made the sauce. We literally were finished in under 20 minutes. I call that winning dinner, lol! You can choose to add a bit of breadcrumbs to these Sticky Chicken Meatballs or you can leave them out and they become gluten-free. These also do not require egg.
The trick is to buy boneless chicken breasts, cut them into 2-inch chunks and puls them in your food processor, making your own ground chicken. That way the ground chicken isn’t “wet” like some prepackaged ground chicken packages can be. This is what I always do when I want ground chicken. It literally takes 2-3 minutes to accomplish. After that, I toss in scallions, garlic paste, salt & pepper (breadcrumbs if you choose)…Give it another couple of pulses and then I roll them into balls. That’s it.
Then I simply saute the chicken meatballs until browned (that what makes them taste so good…the browned areas) in a pan. Then I simmer them in the sauce a few minutes more to ensure they are cooked through. While that’s happening I cook a package or two of Veetee Rice which takes just 2 minutes to cook (plus it’s GMO and BPA free). I seriously love Veetee, especially the Thai Jasmine and Basmati Rice. (This post isn’t sponsored…I just love Veetee and eat it often.)
When I make Sticky Chicken Meatballs and serve them over rice, I always make sure I spoon extra sauce over the rice, mmmm! Haha, my mouth is filling with water as I type this at 10:15 pm just thinking about eating this…really! If you want the meatballs themselves to have an Asian flavor kick, add in some sesame oil. The wetness of the chicken itself once ground means there is no need to add an egg to help it hold together. In my opinion, these are best pan-fried all you need is a bit of grapeseed or olive oil.
I am a meatball lover! One minute I think I like pork meatballs the best, the next I decide…nope it’s all about the beef and the next I know chicken are the best…Let’s just say they are alllll good!
If you like meatballs as much as I do, check out my Meatball Pinterest Board or these recipes here on Souffle Bombay…I must have at least 10 meatball recipes, lol
- My Asian Pork Meatballs with Ginger Honey Sauce are gluten free and one of the most popular recipes on my site.
- These Turkey Meatballs in a Savory Broth are different and a comfort food.
- So many people have let me know they have made these Buffalo Chicken Meatballs. If you like Buffalo flavor…these are for you. Perfect for game-day!
- And of course “The Perfect Meatball” which is traditional and always a winner!
I hope you enjoy these Sticky Chicken Meatballs as much as my family and I do. I am crazy for them! Let me know if you make them!
Steamed Meatball with Sticky Rice
Chinese Spring festival is coming and I love to introduce this steamed meatball with sticky rice for the coming holiday party.
There are lots of symbolic dishes for Chinese Spring Festival. We get round balls including meatballs, almond cookie, Tangyuan and deep-fried sesame balls to symbolize the reunion of the family. We get fish either roasted, grilled, steamed or red braised to symbolize the rich harvest in the past year (we get some leftovers after one year hard working). This steamed pork ball with sticky rice gets a very lovely name “pearl balls”. I think it can be quite meaningful to a family party.
It can be served as a super easy side dish or appetizer, will be loved by child. The aroma of the meatballs forms a good comparison with the light flavor from the sticky rice. If you get a blender, this dish only need 15 minutes preparation. So it is a nice choice for large family party when lots of cooking tasks need to be finished in a short time.
Wash to clean sticky rice and then soak in water for 4 hours until easy to break.
Add pork (with at least 30% fat), salt, white pepper, ginger, spring onion, egg, cornstarch, light soy sauce and oyster sauce in a blender. Blend with pause until there are still some particles.
Add sesame oil and continue stir the meat in one direction for 2-3 minutes and then shape the pork into balls.
Place the meatballs into sticky rice and slightly press the surface to make sure the rice is well attached.
Place in steamer and steam for 30 minutes (I use high pressure cook with rice procedure, taking 20 minutes).
Korean rice balls (ugly kimbap)
Sometimes we have ideas that are realised pretty instantly, and sometimes we have those that plant a little seed and grow, slowly, in your mind until one day, you suddenly realise it’s a tree and do something about it. It may be a pretty odd metaphor to apply to a recipe, but hey, that’s what happened with me and these delicious, ugly little rice balls.
I tried ‘Ugly Kimbap’ at a Korean take-away in London about 5 years ago and my interest was sparked. Being only relatively enamoured with rice, more so of course when covered in something saucy, sticky, and delicious, the idea of a rice ball was perhaps a little dull to me. I then tried this little ball of sticky rice and realised that it was filled with all sorts of goodies flavoured with sesame oil, vegetables, meat and something deliciously salty and flavourful that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. This was the seed planting.
I then began my search for what I had discovered was Korean rice seasoning. I still don’t know the Korean name. I didn’t even find it in any of the Asian supermarkets I went to (in neither London nor Amsterdam), but then again I never made it to a Korean specialty supermarket. What I did find, however, was Japanese rice seasoning, furikake. So I bought some. Kimbap is a Korean dish made from cooked ingredients wrapped in rice and dried seaweed, so understandably one might compare it to sushi, but the flavours and preparation methods are actually very different. However, the Japanese rice seasoning, furikake, makes a beautiful addition to my ugly kimbap, giving it the salty, umami flavour that makes it so incredibly moreish.
When I finally got round to experimenting with these flavours and creating this dish (and opening my year old packet of furikake), it was all I wanted it to be. Next time I’m going to add some mince meat, but for now I’ve stuck with a vegetarian selection. These little rice balls are unbelievably moreish, and incredibly easy to make. Furikake, in it’s various forms, is much more popular with your average Asian supermarket than the nameless Korean version, apparently, so you’ll be able to find some pretty swiftly.