Making porky meatballs are easy, but to make meatballs that are bouncy or springy will need some techniques and pointers. In fact, these pointers applied to all types of meatballs be it chicken, fish, pork or beef balls.
Chinese meatballs are different from Western meatballs. The meatballs need to be very compact until it has some springy sensation when eaten. When you throw a ball onto the flour, it should be able to bounce back, at least a few cm in height.
To make these bouncy meatballs, there is an essential step to beat the meat until it forms a sticky mass. In Chinese cooking term, it is called 起胶 and I am unable to find an equivalent word for this term in English. Jiao (胶） can be literally translated as “latex, gelatine, glue, binding” etc.. Therefore, the meat has to be beaten until it reaches a stages of meat gelatine are produced. Pardon me if there is no such a word called meat gelatine but I shall used it in the post.
When the meat is beaten well enough, the meat fibres are broken until it is a fine and thick paste resembling some sticky glue. Only with these type of cohesiveness between the meat fibres, the meatballs will be binding well and produce a springy meatball. In addition, only when it reaches this stage, the other ingredients will be well incorporated with the meat.
To do this, traditional Chinese cooking method is to stir the minced meat using a chopstick in a single direction for 10 minutes and you can see the texture changes along the way. However, I will be sharing another method that uses standing mixer that make it faster and more effective. I am using a standing mixer and I have ever used a food processor too. I think food processor produced a much finer texture.
This meatball recipe is simple. The deep fried meatballs can be eaten as they are. They can also be used to cook in soup or like in this illustration, sweet and sour meatballs. The meatballs are crispy on the exterior and smooth in the inside. It is quite springy though it has yet to reach the springiness of the store version.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
- 500 grams of minced pork belly (preferably at least 30% fat content)
- 1 tablespoon of minced garlic ginger sauce
- 2 tablespoons of Chinese cooking wine
- 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of five spice powder
- 1 teaspoon of chicken stock or sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 egg white
- 100 grams of mantou crumbs or bread crumbs (optional) – to absorb excess water and hence make it more compact
- 2 tablespoons of corn starch mix with 3 tablespoons of water
Sweet and Sour Sauce
- 8 tablespoons of plain water (清水）
- 4 tablespoons of tomato sauce （番茄酱）
- 4 tablespoons of white vinegar （白醋）
- 4 tablespoons of white sugar （白糖）
- 1 tablespoons of corn starch （生粉）
- 2 tablespoon of cooking oil （食用油）
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Prepare the starch solution and let it the starch settle at the bottom, throw away the water and keep the wet starch. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl of a standing mixer, put all the meat ball ingredients (including the starch) and use the highest speed of the mixer to beat the meat for at least 10 minutes or until it becomes a glue like mass. Alternatively, you can use a food processor to do the job. If you do not have a food processor or a standing mixer, you can use a pair of chopstick to stir in one direction until it becomes gluey. This process will enhance the meat to absorb all the water and seasonings and improve the springiness.
- Heat up a pot of hot oil and use the chopstick to test the readiness of the heat. If a wooden chopstick is placed in the hot oil and bubble emitted, the oil is consider as ready.
- Turn the oil to medium. Take a handful of the batter, use hand to squeeze it out like in the picture, use a tablespoon to scoop out the beaten meat and drop the pork ball into the hot oil. Deep fry using medium heat until the balls floated upwards and turn light golden brown colour. Turn the heat to high and let it deep fry for another half minute. Dish up and drain. The meatballs can be eaten when cool or follow the recipe as follows.
- Mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir until well mixed. In a non stick pan, add in the sauce and cook until the sauce thickens. Add the meatball, stir until well coated and off the heat. The sweet and sour pork balls are ready for serving.
The recipe is a guideline and you can add as many things as you liked such as water chestnuts, onion or spring onion etc.. Feel free to adjust the seasonings. I did not change or localize the recipe as this is the authentic Shandong recipes (鲁菜）in Northern China。 These pork balls are addictive and you can prepare more and it keeps well in the freezer. Prior to serving, just deep fry for a minute or two to get back the crispy outer skin. Or you can use these meatballs to boil soup such as tofu glass noodles soup.
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