This is one of my favourite recipes from mum’s kitchen. I call them Chinese meatballs for lack of a better name, but I suppose they sound more acceptable than pork balls. You can switch the protein up to any other meats you like but I always use pork for this recipe, simply because my mother always use pork herself. I even used these meatballs for a spaghetti meatball dish once but I left the mushrooms out, they were yummylicious!! I consider these my fail-safe mixture for many dishes like gyozas, stuffing, tofu rolls, or you can even drop them into soups. With this basic recipe, you just need to tweak a little here and there to suit the dish you’re making. But here is my childhood fav, deep fried!
Us kids would fight for these meatballs. The ones that helped to prep would have the privilege of first taste. But we had to resist from finishing the entire plate. I’ve made this several times for my son’s birthday parties, I made it into little appetizers or a main dish, I even skewered it with pineapples once. Either way, it’s always the first to go. Guests would rush for these meatballs and rave about it to unfortunate latecomers who can only look longingly at a polished plate, albeit a few crumbs here and there. Proof of what was once there.
I know it’s one thing to be full of superlatives for your own cooking, but this is my mum’s recipe so I’m giving all credit to her. She might’ve got it from an old cookbook, but it’s my job to ensure this stays in the family for generations and I would definitely pass it down to my kids.
My mother has been known to add sengkuang or jicama (a type of turnip) into the meatballs for extra crunch but I left it out. If I was making some popiah-like dish, then maybe I would consider putting this in (below).
CHINESE MEATBALLS RECIPE
Minced pork, lean and belly mixed
Dried shitake mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water till soft
1 big white onion
4 Chinese spoons breadcrumbs (made from stale white bread)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 dashes of sesame oil
Oil for deep frying
More breadcrumbs for coating
1. Place the minced pork in a deep, wide bowl. Remove the stems from the shitake mushrooms and squeeze out excess water. Chop the white onion into chunks. Mince the onions and mushrooms together. They need to be fine but not mushy.
2. Mix the pork, mushrooms, onions, breadcrumbs, egg, scallions together with your hands. Season with salt, white pepper and sesame oil. If the mixture seems wet, add more breadcrumbs. They need to feel like pasty glue. Do a taste test. Cook a finger size portion of the mixture and then eat it. Adjust seasoning if need be.
3. Shape the mixture into balls. Roll them around in fine breadcrumbs to coat.
4. Heat your oil to hot frying temperature. Test with a few bits of breadcrumbs. When it’s ready, turn the heat down to the middle. Drop your meatballs into the oil but don’t overcrowd the pot. Fry the meatballs evenly on all sides. Drain on a rack.
5. Let the oil come to frying temp again before you do the next batch.
6. Eat with white rice or with some simple salad.