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Chinese Pork Meatballs

Several Chinese pork meatballs on a parchment lined green tray, and a gray plate with chopsticks on it.
This easy Chinese pork meatballs recipe boasts the subtle sweetness of pork, the pleasing chewiness of rice, and the inherent easiness of a supper that's made for weeknights.
Nisha Katona

Prep 30 mins
Cook 1 hr
Total 1 hr 30 mins
2 to 4 servings


  • Bamboo steamer


  • 1 to 1 3/4 cups sticky rice or arborio rice
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 large scallion (white and green parts) finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 ounces water chestnuts finely chopped
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce*
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine (or sake or medium-dry sherry)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • Dark soy sauce*, for dipping


  • The day before you intend to make the pork meatballs for dinner, dump the rice in a large pot or bowl, add enough cold water to cover, and let soak overnight.
  • About an hour before dinner, drain the rice and spread the grains on a rimmed baking sheet. In a large bowl using your hands, combine the pork, scallion, water chestnuts, egg white, ginger, soy sauce, rice wine, salt, and cornstarch. Roll the mixture into 3/4-inch (2-centimeter) balls. You should have about 40 meatballs. Then roll each meatball in the rice to coat it well. Place the meatballs on a couple heatproof plates that will fit in a bamboo steamer, spacing the meatballs 1/4 to 1/2 inch (1/2 to 1 centimeter) apart. Stack the plates on the steamer.
  • Place the steamer over a wok or other large pot with an inch or so of water. Turn the heat to high and cook the pork meatballs until the rice has softened and the pork is cooked through, about 20 minutes from the time the water starts steaming.
  • When the pork meatballs are done, drizzle with the sesame oil and serve hot with the soy dipping sauce on the side.


*Light Versus Dark Soy Sauce

If you’re getting lost in the Asian food aisle at the grocery store, we’re here for you. The difference between light and dark soy sauce is the length of aging, which also varies depending on whether the soy sauce is Chinese or Japanese. For this recipe, you ideally want Chinese light soy sauce, which is thinner and lighter in color. Don’t confuse it with the low-sodium, “lite” soy sauce. Chinese dark soy sauce is aged longer and has a sweeter flavor and more viscous texture. If you want to sub in your everyday supermarket soy sauce (which is technically a Japanese dark soy sauce) for both and call it a day, simply start with a smaller amount and add more to taste so that your dish doesn’t turn out too salty.