pearl balls recipe

pearl balls


  • 400g piece boneless, skinless pork belly, very finely chopped (or ground pork)
  • 1 small shallot
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
  • ½ cube organic vegetable bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon Shaosing rice wine
  • 2 pinches cracked sea salt
  • 2 pinches of ground white pepper
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 cup glutinous white rice, soaked overnight in cold water and drained
Dipping sauces
  • Black rice vinegar with ginger matchsticks
  • Chilli sauce (Linghams)
  • Soy, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sesame seeds, fresh chillies, coriander


  1. Place the pork belly on a large cutting board and very finely mince it with a sharp, heavy knife or cleaver until the fat is broken down; spread it out on the board into a thin layer (or use 2 large heavy cleavers to speed up the process). Using a microplane, grate the shallot, ginger, and bouillon cube over the meat. Sprinkle the five-spice, Shaosing, salt, pepper, egg yolk, and cornstarch over the pork and use the knife (or a spatula) to mix the ingredients to combine well.
  2. Put some cornflour in a shallow bowl, using your hands, roll the pork mixture into ping-pong ball sized balls and roll them in the cornstarch to lightly coat. Shake off the excess starch and transfer the meatballs to a plate.
  3. Working with wet hands, put some of the soaked rice in your palm and roll the meatball in it with your hands, pressing gently, until it is evenly coated in rice. Continue rolling until the meatballs are all coated with rice.
  4. Fill a wok 1/3 with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Put a shallow flat bowl or plate with a lip into a bamboo steamer basket (make sure the plate is at least ½- inch smaller than the diameter of the basket) and evenly space the rice balls on the plate, being sure they do not touch each other. Cover the basket with the lid and lower it into the wok. Steam the meatballs, adding water to the wok as necessary, steam the pearl balls for 20 to 25 minutes, until firm and set.
  5. Serve the meatballs in the bamboo baskets on the table serve with bamboo picks on the side for skewering and dipping into vinegar, chili oil, or soy sesame sauce.

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