Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pearl Balls

I mentioned making Pearl Balls in the previous post using the Potsticker filling. But I realized that I wasn't giving you a really authentic recipe for these wonderful Dim Sum snacks and needed to rectify that. I also prefer to use ground chicken for Pearl Balls - also called Porcupine Balls for the way the rice sticks out of them. These are one of the only gluten free snacks on the dim sum trays along with rolled rice noodles and Lotus Leaf Wraps (and I will give you my aunt's fabulous recipe for them one of these days). Pearl Balls use ground meat - usually pork, Shitake mushrooms, chopped water chestnuts and green onions as a filling. It is lightly flavored with Tamari and Rice Wine. You mix it all up, make it into a meatball and then roll each bowl into presoaked white rice. Then you steam them and serve them with a dipping sauce of Tamari mixed with some chili oil. They are usually served as an appetizer or part of a Dim Sum meal, but I love them so much that I and can make a meal of them with just a cucumber salad on the side. The are quite easy to make and this chicken version is much healthier.

Pearl Balls

3/4 cup short grain or medium grain white rice
3/4 pound of ground chicken (dark meat if possible)
1/2 cup Shitake mushrooms (soaked in hot water for at least 30 minutes), minced
1/2 chopped water chestnuts (from a can), chopped
3 green onions, top and roots sliced off and minced finely
1 Tablespoon Tamari
1 Tablespoon Shao Shing Rice Wine
1 egg white
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch

Soak the rice in a bowl with water to cover for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.

In a large bowl, combine chicken, mushrooms, water chestnuts, green onions, Tamari, Rice Wine, egg white and cornstarch together until combined. Make all the meatballs (it will make about 12 large meatballs) and place on a baking sheet.

Put water in the bottom of the wok to a depth of at least 4 inches and heat to boiling. Put a plate inside two levels of a bamboo steamer for the Pearl Balls.

Drain rice and spread onto another baking sheet. Roll the meatballs in the rice and place 6 on each plate until all are coated. Place the bamboo steamer onto the wok and steam for 25 - 35 minutes.

Serve with Tamari mixed with Chili Oil on the side for dipping.

Five Element Analysis

Chicken belongs to the Wood Element so that element is covered. Rice and green onions belong to the Metal Element. The Tamari and Shitake Mushrooms bring in the Water Element, the water chestnuts add the Earth Element and the Chili Oil and Rice Wine contribute the Fire Element. Guess what? This is a remarkably balanced little snack all by itself, but since it is usually served as part of a Dim Sum array, you are sure to already be somewhat balanced if you just eat these.

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