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Chinese pearl balls in a steamer
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Chinese Pearl Balls

Chinese Pearl Balls are fun and tasty appetizers that are sure to be a hit with the crowd. They're a great addition to Chinese New Year, holidays, and other celebrations for good luck. Perfect for sharing and freezable, too!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Soak8 hrs
Total Time8 hrs 50 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 2 Dozens


  • Steamer
  • parchment paper


  • 1 cup glutinous rice
  • 2 pieces dried shitake mushrooms
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 cup water chestnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 thumb-size ginger, peeled and mince
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Dipping Sauce

  • soy sauce to taste
  • chili sauce to taste


  • In a bowl, combine glutinous rice and enough water to cover. Soak for at at least 6 hours or overnight for best results. In a colander, drain well and transfer into a wide plate.
  • In a small bowl with warm water, soak shitake mushrooms until softened. Using hands, squeeze liquid and then mince.
  • In a bowl, combine ground pork, water chestnuts, mushrooms, ginger, green onions, garlic, soy sauce, wine, sesame oil, egg, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
  • Form meat mixture into balls of about 1-inch diameter. Gently roll each ball in rice to fully coat, pressing rice onto the meat.
  • Line a steamer with banana leaves Chinese cabbage leaves, or parchment paper. Arrange rice-coated meatballs in a single layer on steamer at about 1/2 inch apart.
  • Steam for about 20 to 30 minutes or until rice and meat are cooked through. Serve with dipping sauce.


  • Soak the glutinous rice in water for at least 6 hours or overnight to ensure quick and even cooking.
  • If the meat mixture is too soft to shape or roll in rice, freeze for about 10 to 15 minutes to firm up.
  • Line the steamer to keep the meatballs from sticking and the rice coating from falling through the cracks. You can use banana leaves for extra aroma, cabbage leaves, or parchment paper.