I always need hors d’oeuvre recipes because I entertain a lot. Most of the people who come over are really really familiar with the ones I repeat over and over (because no matter how much they like to try new foods, they are like most people and also want the favorites).
So I make a new recipe or two each time I have company. Experiments mostly, so my friends and family can be “test subjects” for a thumbs up or down.
But recently one of my daughters said “hey Mom, can I have your recipe for Pearly Meatballs?” And I realized I haven’t made these in YEARS! And they are so good, everyone loves them. I had stopped making them because well, frankly, they seemed old hat. But now that we haven’t had them in so long they seem fresh and I am remembering how much everyone looked forward to these.
I learned about Pearly Meatballs from the famous Florence Lin, Chinese cookbook author and teacher, who I met long ago at the China Institute. I tweaked her recipe here and there to suit our family. These meatballs are perfect for Chinese New Year (starting tonight) but also for the Superbowl on February 5th.
2/3 cup glutinous rice
4 large dried shiitake mushrooms
2 medium scallions, coarsely chopped
6 water chestnuts, coarsely chopped
1 slice fresh ginger, peeled, about 1/2-inch thick, cut coarsely
1 pound ground turkey (or veal but NOT beef or lamb)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon rice wine
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Place the rice in a large bowl, cover with cold water and let soak for 2 hours. Drain and set aside. Soak the mushrooms in hot water for 10-15 minutes or until soft. Drain, rinse, cut the mushrooms coarsely, and place in a food processor. Add the scallions, water chestnuts and ginger. Process until finely chopped (alternatively, chop the vegetables with a cleaver or chef’s knife).
Combine the meat, egg, soy sauce, salt, rice wine, sugar and chopped vegetables in a bowl. Shape the mixture into balls about 1-/14 to 1-1/2-inches in diameter (wet, cold hands make this easier). Place the drained rice on a plate. Roll each of the meatballs in the rice to coat the outside.
Place the rice-coated meatballs in a steamer. Bring the water in the steamer to a simmer. Steam for 30-35 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through and the rice is soft.
Serve with vinegar and chili-flavored oil. Makes about 24