Pork with rice – staples of our Asian diet. And this delightful little dumpling is a microcosm of that diet – marinated minced pork rolled in rice and steamed until perfect! I started using this recipe back in 2003, when I wanted to make full use of the large bamboo steamers we bought in Chinatown. This is a very simple and easy recipe – but it has always elicited “oohs” and “aahs” from our guests because, well, they look really cool.
Bamboo steamers are usually available in Chinese supermarkets or cookware stores in your local Chinatown. In Canada and the US, most mainstream grocery stores such as Walmart and the Real Canadian Superstore carry steamers in packs of three. Bamboo steamers are also available from many online retailers (in the UK http://www.theasiancookshop.co.uk/). If you cannot find bamboo steamers anywhere (or if you don’t want to buy them), you can also use a vegetable steamer.
Pearl Balls Recipe
This recipe makes about 20 pearl balls. You can quarter it to fit a mini-steamer or double it to fill 2 large steamers.
- 1 20-inch bamboo steamer and lid
- banana leaf or wax paper
- Large pot that the steamer will fit over
- Glutinous (or unsweetened pudding) rice, soaked in water overnight or for 3 hours
- Approximately 375 grams of minced/ground pork
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon finely minced or pureed ginger
- 3 stalks of green/spring onion, sliced thinly
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch (cornflour)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon mirin or Chinese cooking wine
Cover the glutinous rice with water in a large bowl. Leave it to soak overnight or for at least 3 hours. Drain when ready to use.
Line the bamboo steamers with wax paper or bamboo leaf. Cut the liner so that there is 1 centimeter of free space between the edge of the lining and the side of the steamer. Lightly oil the lining.
Mix all the other ingredients in a large bowl.
Take about 1.5 tablespoons of the pork mixture and shape it into a ball in your palm. Gently roll the ball in the rice.
Place each ball in the steamer, at least half a centimeter apart.
Boil a full pot of water over high heat. Place the steamer(s) over the pot and cover. Lower the heat to medium high. Steam or 45 minutes-1 hour or until the meat is cooked and tender.
Serve with small dipping bowls of soy sauce and hot sauce.