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Pearl meatballs

Chinese Pearl Meatballs

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Adapted from the recipe and method found on JustOneCookbook


The rice

  • 1 ½ cups short-grain rice (traditionally sweet rice/glutinous, but other rice is fine). Soak this in water for at least two hours, up to overnight. 

Meatball Mixture

  • 1 lb ground pork (80/20 is best)
  • 2 Tbsp green onion/scallion, chopped
  • 1 large egg 
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt 
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice wine (optional)
  • 6 water chestnuts, minced
  • Sesame oil, for your hands
  • 36 cabbage leaves for the steamer basket

Pearl meatball ingredients


  • Combine the pork with all of the seasoning ingredients. Mix well so that the mixture starts to cling to itself somewhat. 
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  • Drain the rice well and pour it out onto a plate or into a shallow dish.
  • Pour a few drops of sesame oil into one palm and rub it on both your hands. Use a spoon to portion out balls the size of small walnuts, about 2 Tbsp. 
  • Roll the balls between your oiled palms. 
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  • Roll each ball in the pre-soaked rice. 
  • Line the bottom of your steamer basket with cabbage leaves and get the water boiling in your steamer. 
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  • Put one layer of meatballs in the steamer. Insert the Needle Probe into one of the balls. 
  • Set the high-temp alarm on your ChefAlarm for 160°F (71°C). Put the steamer basket into your steamer, place the lid on the steamer and steam.
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  • When the ChefAlarm sounds, verify the temperature with your Thermapen and remove the meatballs from the steamer. Check the water level in the steamer and cook the next batch. Repeat until they have all been cooked.
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  • You can serve them as they come out of the steamer or keep them warm in a covered dish until they are all ready. 
  • Serve with the dipping sauce of your choice. We used good soy sauce with a few drops of rice vinegar and chili oil, dressed with scallion. 

Serving dish of pearl balls