Friday, 4 November 2011

Rice-covered Meatballs

When I saw some other bloggers making this dish (珍珠丸子) on internet few days ago, I immediately knew I'd love to make one. But there were two problems:

(1) I don't have glutinous rice (糯米, also known as sticky rice) at home and ordinary supermarkets don't sell it. And honestly I don't want to buy a bag of glutinous rice. It's tasteful, no doubt. But for some reason I think glutinous rice(or maybe the overeating of it) can cause me a very bloated stomach.

(2) Like most other Chinese or oriental recipes, meat ball is typically made of minced pork. Yet my hubby doesn't like pork at all.

But... those pearl rice balls are sooooo cute! (Aren't they?)

Therefore I decided to substitute glutinous rice and pork with sushi rice and turkey. The dish turned out pretty good. I think it may not as meaty as the traditional ones using pork, but I think it is a lot healthier. Turkey is an excellent protein source with very low fat percentage. It can be easily found here at very reasonably price too. Guess I am happy enough!

Modified from:

My ingredients:
  • 1 cup sushi rice (raw, about 158g)
  • 260g minced turkey
  • 10g dried baby shrimps (蝦米), briefly chopped
  • 10g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp Unami paste
  • spring onion, chopped
  • a pinch of salt
  • white ground pepper
  • curled parsley (optional)
  • gojiberries (枸杞, optional)

My Method: (Make 16 meatballs, serves 2-4)
  1. Soak the sushi rice in water for about 2 hours. Drain well in a sieve. Pat with kitchen towel to make sure the rice is dry before using.
  2. Soak the dried baby shrimps and porcini mushrooms in water for 10 minutes. Drain and then soak in shaoxing wine again for about 10 minutes. Drain and chop. Keep the shaoxing wine for later use. Chop the spring onions and garlic cloves.
  3. Combine the minced turkey with soy sauce, shaoxing wine, sesame oil, salt, white pepper and garlic in a mixing bowl. Stir hard in a single direction until all ingredients are well blended.
  4. Add dried baby shrimps, porcini mushrooms, egg white, cornstarch and spring onion into the mixing bowl and stir again until well blended.
  5. Boil about 800ml of water and pour the hot water into a pressure cooker (or a large saucepan).
  6. Take about 1 heaped table spoon of meat and form into a ball. Roll the meat ball over the sushi rice until they are completely coated. Continue with the rest of the meat mixture.
  7. Place the meatballs on steamer basket or a perforated steaming inset over a tripod. Steam over boiling water for about 10 minutes when using pressure cooker. Start counting time from the point of closing the lid. Turn off the heat after 10 minutes regardless of the pressure ring reading (should have reached green already). Then wait for another 5 minutes till the pressure comes back to normal. It should take about 15 minutes when steaming in a normal saucepan.
  8. Garnished with curled parsley and gojiberries.

My Notes

  • Although garnish is strictly optional, I found that the use of curled parsley and gojiberries can improve the depth of the taste. The slight sweetness of gojiberries goes very well with turkey meatballs. Gojiberries can be easily bought in large supermarkets or health food stores such as Holland & Barrett.
  • I used a perforated inset came with my pressure cooker to steam the meatballs. I think it is better than using a plate which may collect too much steam and result in excessive juice in the dish. A steamer basket can also be used.
  • I used a bit of Umami paste bought from Tesco. This is a very new condiment which has only been on the market for about 2 years. It is a flavour enhancer like MSG but without any side effect. Plus, Umami paste are said to be made from ingredients naturally high in "Umami", such as mushrooms, tomato & anchovy.
  • Porcini mushrooms are commonly used in mushoom risotto. It has very strong taste which can be comparable with Shiitake mushrooms. I love to use porcini mushrooms especially when I am in hurry as they are usually sliced before dried. The smaller size makes them rehydrate much quicker than dried Chinese mushrooms -- It took at least 2-3 hours to make dried Chinese mushrooms soften but it only takes 10 minutes for porcini mushrooms. They can be easily found in most supermarkets near other condiments.
  • Approximate cost of the main ingredients: £5

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