Asian-inspired Pork Meatballs with Black Thai Rice
If you know us you also know that we love meatballs, and these Asian-inspired pork meatballs are no exception. In fact, they might be my new favourite ones (after my mom’s, that goes without saying).
This is an excellent weekday meal as it takes very little time to make and holds very well in the fridge for lunch the next day. Plus, these meatballs are as good cold as they are warm.
You can substitute black rice with white rice, just cook accordingly. Black rice has a nuttier, deeper flavour that pairs very well with these meatballs but if you don’t have it at hand, white or brown basmati rice will do!
Asian Inspired Pork Meatballs with Black Rice
- Large pan
- 1 cup black Thai rice
- 350 gr pork mince
- 6 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 inch fresh ginger (minced)
- 2 chillies
- 4 spring onions (both green and white parts, plus more for topping)
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
- Soy sauce
- Start by cooking the black Thai rice – 1 cup of rice for 1 and 3/4 cups of water, scale as needed. Make sure the rice is covered by the water, bring to a boil uncovered, and then lower to minimum heat. It should take 20 to 25 minutes. Taste to make sure it's cooked, fluff, and let it steam.
- For the meatballs, finely chop garlic, ginger, spring onions and chillies.
- In a bowl, mix the chopped ingredients together with pork mince, egg, breadcrumbs, and oyster sauce. Adjust with salt and pepper and shape the mix in little balls (approximately 4 cm).
- Heat up the oil over medium heat in a large pan. When hot, add the meatballs and let them cook for 15 minutes, making sure that they brown on all sides.
- When cooked, add the Shaoxing wine to deglaze. Cook for a further 5 minutes or until the Shaoxing wine is completely evaporated.
- Serve with the rice and extra spring onions on top. Add some soy sauce to taste.
Wanna try these Asia-inspired pork meatballs but don’t have Shaoxing wine? Here’s a few alternatives.
Picture this: you’re on SALT&CHILL, scrolling your way down to find the perfect recipe and you come across this Asian-inspired pork meatballs recipe. You start nodding, that’s exactly what you wanted: comfort food, but with a twist. You check the ingredients and since you are well-prepared you have plenty of garlic and ginger in your cupboard. Of course, you know how to regrow your spring onions, because you watched our video on how to do that on Instagram. There’s only one problem: you ran out of Shaoxing wine.
But fear not: we are often not very well-prepared, and lately we have run out of staple ingredients quite often. So we had to improvise. The trick with improvising is that if you know what the purpose of one ingredient is, you can work your way around it with something similar.
When it comes to Shaoxing wine, its purpose was to offset the richness of the oyster sauce. Oyster sauce brings savouriness to the dish, but it can be strong by itself and needs to be counter-balanced. The Shaoxing wine helps reduce the characteristic fish smell and brings an extra layer of flavour. I’d recommend having it in your cupboard at all times, but if like us, you love it so much you ran out, you can substitute it with one of the below alternatives:
- Dry sherry: sherry is the go-to alternative for Shaoxing wine, but it’s a tad sweeter, so bare this in mind when using it. We’d advise to use less of it to avoid making the meatballs too sweet. It’s also the cheapest alternative to Shaoxing wine and the most popular.
- Mirin: Japanese rice wine, not necessarily easier to find, but if you usually stock both at home you are in luck. As for dry sherry, mirin is sweeter than Shaoxing wine so keep this in mind when adding that to your dish.
- Sake: ideally you want to use cooking sake, but normal sake will do as well.
While you can substitute Shaoxing wine, of course, these Asian meatballs will work out best if you have the real deal. So if you want to take our advice, go over Asian Grocery UK, Longdan, or your country’s equivalent and buy at least:
- oyster sauce
- rice wine (Shaoxing)
- rice vinegar
- soy sauce, both light and dark
I know it sounds like a lot, but once you figure out how to try each and every one of them, you won’t be able to give up on any of them. I remember the first time we came back home with all these staple ingredients and I started wondering if I really needed them or whether they would end up at the back of my cupboard for years. Take this, me of the past.
Pork Meatballs, Beef Meatballs, All the Meatballs: mix and match and find your own go-to
There are two main reasons why I love meatballs so much. First, they are the epitome of comfort food. Is it the ground meat or is it the easy-to-eat characteristic shape? Is it the subtle carbs or is it the balance of flavour? I have no idea, and I thought that my love was just for the classic, beef meatballs. However, at this point, and after having made these pork meatballs just once, I know for sure that it’s all meatballs.
Second, once you nail down the principle of meatballs, you can experiment with different pairings very easily. I started by recreating my mom’s meatballs (very Italian, usually cooked in a rich tomato sauce as we did for this take on The Soprano’s spaghetti and meatballs) but I occasionally found myself short of ingredients. Pork meatballs by themselves are not particularly appealing, as pork mince does not really taste like much let’s be honest, which is why you need something extra. Possibly in the form of enough garlic to kill Dracula.
If you find yourself with any kind of mince or ground meat, it’s pretty easy to end up with flavorful meatballs as long as you keep the ratio of the main ingredients. So for 500 gr/ 1 lb of meat, you will need:
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup of breadcrumbs. This depends on whether you add anything liquid or moist in, like we did in this recipe with the oyster sauce. Start with less than 1/2 cup and add more until you feel that the mix holds together.
- 1 egg to bind everything together
- Some sort of herb to give flavour and a bit of variance in texture. This can be either parsley or coriander, although you can experiment with other ones as well if you want.
- Optional, zest. Oooh the zest. The difference that some lime, lemon and perhaps even orange zest make! We skipped that for these pork meatballs but as I write this, I am honestly re-evaluating the decision.
At the end of the day, the secret is that there is no secret really. You can try all sorts of alternatives and pairings depending on how creative you feel and the range of ingredients that you have at home. This is how we came up with these and with our beef, coriander and lime meatballs, so clearly we did something right there.