Zhenzhu Qiu – Asian Pearl Balls

Like many cooks, I am always looking for ways to have flavorful and interesting meals while saving money wherever possible.  A few months ago, our local grocery put ground chicken on sale for a ridiculously low price, so I bought 5 pounds, not knowing what I could possibly do with it.  That made an opportunity to experiment, so I divided the chicken into smaller 4-ounce packages and made several different things, mostly nothing that I’d want to do again.  Then I ran across a recipe for Pearl Balls, and thought maybe this!  Traditionally, these are made with pork or shrimp, but I thought the chicken might do just as well.  I took the basic idea of a meatball coated in rice then steamed, and ran with it.

Asian Pearl Balls at From My Carolina Home

Most recipes I found call for soaking the rice overnight.  But, for me, I barely can plan a meal a few hours ahead much less a day or more unless it is Thanksgiving.  So, how to shortcut that?  Easy, make extra rice the next time you make it, and freeze the leftover cooked rice.  I froze about 1 cup of cooked jasmine rice, which defrosts in about an hour, ready to use.  I like the sweetness and stickiness of jasmine rice best, but I have also used the specialty sushi rice which is a bit stickier and not as sweet.  I have made these now several times, and I am finally happy with the recipe. It is flavorful, and made with ingredients easy to find.  Added to a meal with some additional Asian bites and steamed vegetables, it makes a wonderful meal.

Asian Inspired Meals at From My Carolina Home

Mix black sesame seeds with leftover sticky rice and set aside.

Asian Pearl Balls at From My Carolina Home

Coarsely chop chicken in a food processor. Skip this step if using ground chicken.

Asian Pearl Balls at From My Carolina Home

If you don’t have a food processor, pound the tenders between two pieces of plastic with a mallet to break up the meat.

Asian Pearl Balls at From My Carolina Home

Add grated carrot, onion and spices.  I don’t add salt at this stage since these will be served with a sauce like soy sauce which is generally salty enough, even the low sodium versions.

Asian Pearl Balls at From My Carolina Home

Mix well. Tradition says to use chopsticks to mix, but really a wooden spoon will do.

Asian Pearl Balls at From My Carolina Home

Form into small meatballs. I find using a scoop makes the sizes more even.

Asian Pearl Balls at From My Carolina Home

Roll in the rice to coat, pressing the rice to the meat with your hands.

Asian Pearl Balls at From My Carolina Home

Place in a bamboo steamer (or a use a vegetable steamer).  Here I used some lettuce that was turning a bit brown and past the point where I wanted to eat it in a salad,  but it is fine as a steamer liner.  I also like using parchment paper in the steamer.

Asian Pearl Balls at From My Carolina Home

Steam for 20 -25 minutes, until the internal temperature is 160 – 170.

Asian Pearl Balls at From My Carolina Home

Steam them with shumai or pot stickers to add variety to the meal.  This time, I made the meatballs a bit too big, so the next time I used the smallest scoop for more bite-sized pearl balls.

Asian Inspired Meals at From My Carolina Home

After 10 minutes or so, add a second steamer with veggies.  I like snow peas or broccoli best.  Sometimes I add sliced tomato to the plate.

Asian Inspired Meals at From My Carolina Home

Enjoy!

Asian Pearl Balls at From My Carolina Home

Asian Pearl Balls

1 boneless skinless chicken breast, or 3 chicken tenders (or about 4 ounces ground chicken)
1 tablespoon grated carrot
1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion
1 /4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 cup leftover sticky rice
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds

Mix sesame seeds with leftover sticky rice and set aside.  Coarsely chop chicken in a food processor.  Add grated carrot, onion and spices.  Mix well and form into small meatballs.  Roll in the rice to coat, pressing the rice to the meat with your hands.  Steam in a bamboo steamer (or a use a vegetable steamer) for 20 -25 minutes, until the internal temperature is 160 – 170.  Serve with a dipping sauce like oyster sauce, plain (low sodium) soy sauce or teriyaki sauce. Yield 6-8 pearl balls.  Enjoy!

Asian Inspired Meals at From My Carolina Home

Add more delicious bites to the plates, and you have a wonderful meal.  I made these again last night, this time marinating the chicken in some lemon juice to add a citrus note, added egg rolls and pork dumplings, and served with a full steamer basket of broccoli.  Have you made any Asian inspired meals?

11 thoughts on “Zhenzhu Qiu – Asian Pearl Balls

  1. Debbie Miller Meyer

    These look so good! I love pot stickers and glad you gave a link to those. I may have to try them. The only time I get them is when I visit my sister in Seattle and as soon as I get off the plane we head to the warf for some of them. Delicious!!

  2. cathy vergo

    these Asian Pear Balls sound really delish. I can’t wait to try them. I saw above comment that you gave a link for the pot stickers. I must be blind as I didn’t see this link. Thank you so much for giving us ideas on other side tasty nibbles to serve with the pearl balls. Can’t wait for your next recipe.

  3. Brenda Ackerman

    Hello Carole; Everything looks and sounds delicious, I want to come and eat at your house! But no, Kevin does not experiment much with his style of cooking or eating. Plus, since I very seldom have the confidence any more to try cooking…I have almost started fires, ruined pans and wasted a lot of ingredients because of my memory! Now, when Kevin’s daughters come for a visit, they always come up with the most delicious dishes, quite a few of them Asian inspired. Thank you for sharing these fabulous recipes and I hope that you have a fabulous day!

  4. Phyllis Smith

    Hello from Ga. Haven’t sent anything in several days, been having comp. problems, was down for a week . Trying to go through all the mail and deleting. I’m down to just two rice recipes, either brown wild or saffron. Just don’t care for white rice unless it is in a risotto recipe. It look delicious but I don’t seem to get along with Asian food. Love Chinese won ton soup, and dragon soup, plan to make some soon. Been busy purging thru some of my dresser drawers and closets, my ,oh my the things I have forgotten I had, guess that is old age creeping up on me, right? Have a great day and don’t forget to smile.
    Phyllis

  5. dezertsuz

    No, I’m not much of a cook – never have been. I enjoy talking about it, planning for it, but I don’t enjoy the process. If I want any of the Asian foods, I find a good restaurant and eat theirs. =) Your plate looks wonderful at the end, and the recipe looks very easily done. My son might want to try it.

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