Chinese meatballs – one of those recipes that, like Chinese fishballs, I’ve been wanting to blog on for a long, long time. However, despite making them pretty regularly, I’ve never photographed the method nor the result. Sometimes, and I know many food bloggers will attest to this, it’s such a pain to set up the “studio”, put out the props, get the right crockery, get the right light, and spend anything from 10 – 30 minutes shooting the dish. Yes, it really can take that long. For all sorts of reasons. So you can see why those everyday, ordinary recipes tend to get ignored on my blog! They get cooked, then they get eaten. ASAP!
So what finally prompted me to blog on Chinese meatballs? Well, I’d planned to make Bak Chor Mee, a singularly Singaporean minced meat noodle dish. Bak Chor Mee is served with a host of toppings, and one of them is meatballs, or pork balls, to be precise. I didn’t have any in the freezer (always homemade), so had to make some before I could make the noodles. Since I was already planning to take photos of the noodles, I figured it was a case of now or never!
Why make meatballs at home if you are lucky enough to get them easily? For the same reasons you make anything from scratch at home: you control the ingredients, ie., no nasties and you make it to your taste. And you know what? They are soooo easy to make. If you start off with the meat already minced, it won’t take you more than 20 minutes, plus about 5 minutes of cooking time. Sometimes, I like to make mine with minced chilli, sometimes I like to add fresh coriander (cilantro) to the mix. See what I mean about making the recipe to your own taste? I’ve given suggestions for other ingredients you can add to your paste in the recipe card below.
The beauty of having ready made Chinese meatballs in your fridge or freezer is that they can be used in so many ways: soups, stews, fried rice and fried noodles. When using in fried rice and noodles, they can be sliced and used either as a “filling” or as a topping/garnish. For ideas on what recipes to use these in, go on over to Singaporean and Malaysian Page:
I use this exact recipe for all types of meat, although I do double up on the Chinese 5 spice and the white pepper when using beef or lamb. So you can make your Chinese meatballs with pork, chicken, turkey, beef or lamb. Fishballs? Now you’re pushing it! Seriously though, they won’t be long, I’ve had a few “complaints” from old readers about the lack of new Singaporean and Malaysian recipes in recent times! So, I shall also be concentrating on that in the coming months.
Ready to get your hands all dirty?
A video tutorial on how to roll the Chinese meatballs can be found here.
- 500 g (just over 1 lb) minced meat of your choice (pork, chicken, beef, etc)
- 3 Tbsp cold water
- quarter tsp Chinese 5 spice powder (half tsp for beef or lamb)
- half tsp white pepper (1 tsp for beef or lamb)
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- pinch salt
- 2 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)
- half tsp baking powder
- minced ginger
- minced garlic minced chilli
- 1 Tbsp crispy fried shallots
- Place the mince into a chopper with the cold water and blitz for 20 seconds until the water has been absorbed by the meat. You could also do this by hand in a bowl with a fork or spoon.
- Mix all the other ingredients in a bowl into a smooth paste.
- Pour this paste onto the mince meat.
- Turn the chopper on again for 30 - 60 seconds until you have a smooth, well mixed meat paste. Again, you can do this in a bowl with a fork or spoon but it will take about 2 minutes of continuous mixing.
- Tip the meat paste into a bowl. If you are not ready to cook them yet, cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge until needed.
- When ready to cook, do a taste test first. Microwave a pinch of the meat paste for about 30 seconds, then taste it. Add more soy sauce if it needs it.
- Let's make some balls! Scoop a small amount of the meatball paste in your hand, clench your fist and push the paste between the "hole" made by your thumb and forefinger (see images and video).
- Use a teaspoon to scoop the ball of your hand.
- Keep doing this until all the meatball paste has been used up. You may have to rinse your hands in the bowl of cold water every 3 - 4 balls, to prevent sticking.
- At this stage, you could roll them between your palms to create more rounded and smooth meatballs, if you like. Again, don't forget to dip your hands in the bowl of cold water to keep the paste from sticking.
- Bring a pot of water or stock to boil.
- Lower the heat right down and slowly, slide the meatballs into the simmering water. You want them to form roughly a single layer, don't overfill the pot, so you may have to do this in 2 batches.
- Increase the heat to medium high and keep a close eye on the meatballs.
- As soon as the water starts to boil, lower the heat down to medium-low or low and simmer for 5 minutes. This should be enough time for the balls to cook. Don't let the water come to a rolling boil as the meatballs might fall apart.
- When they are done, scoop out with a skimmer or slotted spoon and use as required in a recipe.
- Cool to room temperature, place in a freezer proof bag and freeze for up to a month.