• Pearl Rice Balls with Ginger-Sesame Sauce


Show-Stopping Pork & Rice Dumplings

By Andrew Zimmern

I started making these pearl rice balls about 18 years ago after returning from my first trip to China. I visited a dumpling house in Xian and became fascinated with the presentation styles of standard Chinese pork farces. Creating different wrappers and decorating them is beyond the normal skill set of the average home cook. But I came across this style in an old book and started playing around with it. It’s easy and works every time without fail. I make these now as often as any dumpling in my repertoire. This is the type of recipe you always see in restaurants and don’t think you can do yourself, but it will become one of your go-to showstoppers.

Pearl Rice Balls with Ginger-Sesame Sauce

Servings: makes 24 pieces

Total: 1 hour 20 minutes


Rice Balls

  • 1 cup short-grain Asian rice
  • 3 large cabbage leaves
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 4 scallions, minced
  • 6 water chestnuts, minced
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sake
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons minced scallions
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh peeled ginger
  • 2 teaspoons hot sesame chile oil
  • 2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar


Make the Rice Balls

In a medium bowl, cover the rice with water and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain and spread on paper towels to dry, then transfer to a shallow bowl.

Fill a large saucepan with 3 inches of water and bring to a boil. Line a bamboo steamer basket with the cabbage leaves or parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and mix well. Form the mixture into 1  1/2-inch balls. Coat the balls in the rice, pressing gently to help the rice adhere. Arrange the balls in the steamer basket, leaving at least 3/4 inch between them. Cover and steam over the boiling water until the rice is tender and the meatball is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, Make the Sauce

In a medium bowl, whisk all of the ingredients together. Transfer the rice balls to a platter and serve with the dipping sauce.

MAKE AHEAD The sauce can be refrigerated overnight.

Originally published in Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen Adventures on foodandwine.com.
Photograph by Madeleine Hill.

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