Pearl Meatballs Recipe

Pearl Meatballs

Serves 10, as an appetizer (3 meatballs each)

This is a popular dish served at Chinese gatherings. They get their name from the white sticky rice that coats them — which also makes them really fun to make! Serve them as an appetizer or as part of a light meal.


  • 3/4 cup short-grain sticky rice
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1/4 cup finely minced water chestnuts
  • 2 Tbsp Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp finely minced scallions (green and white parts okay)
  • 1 tsp finely minced garlic
  • 1 tsp finely minced or grated ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Lettuce or cabbage leaves for steaming


  1. Soak the rice in a bowl covered with an inch of water for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
  2. In a medium-size bowl, combine pork, water chestnuts, cooking wine, soy sauce, oyster sauce, scallions, garlic, ginger, salt, sugar, and white pepper (if using). Knead thoroughly until mixture is tacky (about 3 minutes). Mix in up to 1/4 cup of water to loosen the mixture slightly. The pork mixture can be made up to two days in advance and kept chilled in the refrigerator.
  3. Using a colander, drain the rice well. Taking one tablespoon of pork mixture at a time, form into round balls. Wet hands work well for this. Roll each meatball in rice until fully covered. It helps to toss the meatball between your hands in order to gently but firmly ensure that the rice adheres all over the meatball.
  4. Line a steamer basket with lettuce or cabbage leaves. Heat water to boiling. Arrange meatballs atop the leaves, allowing at least a 1/2 inch between each. Cover and steam for 25 minutes or until meat is cooked through and rice is tender.


Amount Per Serving (based on 10 servings)
Calories: 150
Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 2.5 g
Cholesterol: 30 mg
Sodium: 500 mg
Carbohydrates: 10 g
Fiber: 0 g
Sugar: 1 g
Protein: 9 g
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