Steamed Sweet Rice Meatballs

糯米珍珠丸子nuò mǐ zhēn zhū wán zi


1 lb ground pork or ground chicken

1 cup white sweet rice or jasmine rice

1 sweet potato or potato or lotus root

1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorn

2 tbsp minced ginger

2 green onions

1 tsp black peppercorn

1 cup boiled and warm water

4 tbsp light soy sauce

1 egg

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp sesame oil

2 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp salt

(makes about 36 meatballs and can serve 4)

Prep Ingredients

  1. Soak the sweet rice or jasmine rice in a bowl of cold water. Let sit for 1 hour - this helps ensure the rice will soften when it steams later. You can get away with letting it sit for 30 minutes, but any less and the rice will be too hard.

  2. Wash, peel, and slice the sweet potato (or potato or lotus root) into 1/4 inch slices. Soak in cold water as well.

  3. Chop up the green onion.

  4. Mince the ginger.

  5. In a small bowl, add the Sichuan peppercorns, minced ginger, chopped green onion, black peppercorns, and warm water. Soak for 30 minutes. This is our "spice water."

Prep Meatballs

  1. First, in a shallow bowl (that you know will fit in a steamer or in a large pan), arrange the potato / sweet potato / lotus root slices to cover the bottom. This will help keep the meatballs from sticking to the bowl.

  2. In a mixing bowl, add the ground pork (or ground chicken) and egg whites.

  3. Use a strainer to add only the liquid from the spice water.

  4. Use a spoon or pair of chopsticks to stir the ingredients in circles in the same direction for 1 minute.

  5. Add olive oil and stir for another minute.

  6. Add salt and cornstarch and stir for another minute.

  7. Add sesame oil and stir for one more minute.

  8. Strain the sweet rice / jasmine rice.

Make Meatballs

  1. Use a spoon to scoop out a small amount of the ground meat mixture. You need less than you think (but if you want bigger meatballs, go for it).

  2. Roll the meatball in the raw rice evenly to shape the meat mixture as best you can into a ball. It'll be a little hard to shape, but if it's not holding at all, add a bit more cornstarch to the meat mixture.

  3. Roll the meatball in your hands a few times to make it round.

  4. Arrange the ball in the shallow bowl.

  5. Repeat steps 1-5 until the bowl is filled - you don't need to leave that much space between the meatballs.

Steam the Meatballs

  1. If you have a steamer, use that. If you don't, find a pan + lid big enough to hold your shallow bowl of meatballs.

  2. (if using a steamer) Fill the steamer with cold water so that the water level is about an inch below where your bowl will go. Place the meatball bowl in the steamer and cover with a lid.

  3. (if using a pan) Place the meatball bowl in the pan and fill the pan about halfway with cold water. Cover with a lid.

  4. Heat the steamer / pan on medium-high and steam for 30 minutes.

  5. After 30 minutes, the rice should be soft and the meatballs cooked through.

  6. For some pizzazz, you can add a raisin, goji berry, or small cucumber slice on top of each meatball to serve!