Please Pass the Recipe

from one generation to the next

Steamed Rice Studded Meatballs


Hands up if you love meatballs.

The sea of hands is proof.  Age, race and gender are no barrier to meatball love, even vegetarians enjoy plant based versions. The four corners of the globe are united in their love of meatballs. Australians have even adopted the words polpette, kofta and keftedes into the vernacular as proof.

One of the very first challenges I encountered in the kitchen as a young adult was the frustration of making meatballs that didn’t fall apart. It took many, many attempts to succeed, and as I discovered along the way, it was as much about the cooking method as the meat mixture.

In the decades since that early fiasco, I’ve baked, sauteed, barbequed, grilled and poached meatballs. I’ve made them with beef, pork, veal, chicken, turkey, green prawns and white fish. My favourite is Italian style pork and veal meatballs, poached in a rich tomato sauce, spooned onto silky pasta and served with a generous grating of real parmesan. Poaching traps the delicious meat juices inside the meatball, and it also adds richness to the sauce.

I’d never steamed a batch of meatballs until I first made these rice studded meatballs of Chinese origin. Known as Pearl Meatballs or Porcupine Meatballs, the raw meatball mix is rolled in soaked rice, then cooked in a steamer until the rice is cooked. It absorbs any meaty juices that come to the surface adding the delicious essences to the pearlescent grains.

We ate our succulent meatballs straight from the steamer basket sauced with some ginger-soy. I wonder why I’ve never seen similar tasty little morsels at Yum Cha.

PS: Since originally writing and scheduling this post I’ve twice used different meat combos to make these meatballs. The first time I added the finely chopped meat from 500g of green prawns to the pork and dropped the mushrooms and water chestnuts. We liked this much more than the original recipe. The second time I substituted the minced pork with minced chicken, added prawns and reinstated the water chestnuts. It was excellent too.

Steamed Rice Studded Meatballs

1 cup short grained rice(I used sushi rice)

500g pork mince

2 tablespoons of finely chopped water chestnuts

2 tablespoon finely chopped, soaked shiitake mushrooms

2 tablespoons rice flour

3 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons oyster sauce

1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder

1 tablespoon snipped chives

generous grinding of black pepper

Put the rice into a small bowl, cover with cold water allow to soak for at least 2 hours.

After soaking the rice, tip it into a strainer to drain, then spread the rice onto a couple of layers of kitchen paper to dry.

In a large bowl put the pork, shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts, ginger, rice flour, spices and seasonings. Mix thoroughly to combine.

Roll the meatballs roughly 2cm in diameter, then roll in the rice so the meat is encased in a single layer of rice grains.

Line a steamer basket with a sheet of greaseproof paper and arrange the meatballs with a little space between, enough for the rice to swell.

You made need to steam the meatballs in 2 batches.

Cover the steamer tightly and cook for 30 – 35 minutes, timed from when the water starts boiling rapidly. Top the water up in the steamer as needed.

The rice will become transluscent when cooked.

Serve with ginger soy dipping sauce.

Ginger-Soy Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup light soy or tamari

1 tablespoon Shaoxing cooking wine

1 tablespoon finely grated ginger

Mix all the ingredients together. Allow to rest for 15 minutes for the flavours to infuse.

About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

24 comments on “Steamed Rice Studded Meatballs

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  3. Gretchen
    January 14, 2016

    I’ve heard of porcupine steamed meatballs but never tried making them. You make it look relatively easy I may have to try it soon. The pork and prawn version sounds like something we could all eat in minutes!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      January 14, 2016

      Gretchen these meatballs are extra delicious, let me know how you enjoy them if you do decide to try them out

      Like

  4. Lisa @ cheergerm
    January 10, 2016

    Like an over eager grade 5 kid, my hand is up! Love a meatball and how nifty to steam these wee beauties.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      January 11, 2016

      Hah, I can just see you eagerly going me, me, I love meatballs. These are the goods, totally yum..

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Leah
    January 10, 2016

    I’m so glad you shared this recipe, I’m definitely going to attempt making them xx

    Like

  6. Michelle
    January 9, 2016

    I love those! We usually have a freezer full of dim sum dishes, including those. Alas, our freezer is bare. I think we need to set aside a long winter weekend to replenish!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      January 10, 2016

      Rolling meatballs and folding dim sum is a great way to spend a day, then the delicious freezer stash will provide loads of eating pleasure. Enjoy…..

      Like

  7. KitchenSpells
    January 7, 2016

    Yummy! These sound delicious, I’ve never seen anything like them before, but I really want to try them out because they look amazing!

    Like

  8. Eha
    January 7, 2016

    Remember being a young bride and feeling very ‘smart’ when I found a porcupine recipe and actually presented it to friends: well, it did not have half your ingredients, so this will be fun! Methinks the pork and prawn version will be tried first . . . hmmm . . .tho’ know there is a tin of water chestnuts behind all else somewhere in the pantry 🙂 ! Moreish, Sandra!!!

    Like

  9. Nancy |Plus Ate Six
    January 7, 2016

    I have both hands up for meatballs 🙂 When we go for tapas I always order meatballs and Rich always tells me it’s a waste of an eating opportunity but to me there’s something so comforting about them. These look delicious – I’ve never seem them on yum cha trolls either but they should be.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      January 7, 2016

      Nancy, these are seriously good meatballs, changed the benchmark for me

      Like

  10. Marcellina
    January 7, 2016

    When I saw Porcupine meatball I thought of the old fashion beef mince and rice meatball simmered in a tomato sauce which I love. But this is a Chinese version with lots of delicious Asian flavours. This dish sounds lovely!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      January 7, 2016

      Thanks Marcellina. My Mum used to make porcupine meatballs simmered in tomato sauce, We loved them too.

      Like

  11. marymtf
    January 7, 2016

    I’ve made a similar version but stuffed the meat into red capsicum

    Like

  12. Darya
    January 7, 2016

    Wow! Beautiful! And I don’t know a human being who doesn’t like meatballs (or no-meatballs). I’ve heard of these porcupine meatballs, but never tasted them! They look quite intimidating, but your description makes it sound fairly simple.

    Happy New Year!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      January 7, 2016

      Darya they were very simple to make, but looked impressive and tasted great. They are a new favourite.😀

      Like

  13. Mel Kettle
    January 7, 2016

    YUM! I’ve made a version of this before, but many years ago. Time to make them again as they were delish! Thanks for the memory xx

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      January 7, 2016

      You’re welcome Mel, we loved the pork and prawn version and seriously over indulged..

      Like

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