Pork-filled Rice Balls
Yields 12 rice balls
Serve this delicate appetizer to guests with Crisp Chinese “Seaweed” (page 46) for an interesting contrast of colors, textures, and flavors.
½ cup glutinous rice
1 green onion
2 dried mushrooms
1 green leaf from Stir-fried Bok Choy (page 235), optional
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon soaking liquid from the mushrooms
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
¼ teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup ground pork
Rinse the rice several times, and soak for several hours or overnight, if possible. Drain well.
Chop the green onion very thinly into small rounds. Reconstitute the dried mushrooms by soaking in hot water for at least 20 minutes. Reserve the soaking liquid. Cut the mushrooms into thin slices. Thinly slice the bok choy leaf, if desired.
Combine the salt, soy sauce, mushroom liquid, rice wine, sugar, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix the ground pork with the mushrooms, green onion, and bok choy leaf. Add the cornstarch mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, and work it into the pork with your hands.
Place a piece of waxed paper on the counter and spread out the dried glutinous rice. Use your hands to shape the pork mixture into a ball roughly the size of a golf ball. Roll the ball over the rice, making sure it is covered with rice. Repeat with the remainder of the pork.
Steam the pork balls for about 30 minutes, or until they are firm and cooked through. Serve warm or cold.
The Chinese believe dried mushrooms can lower blood pressure and they are also thought to be an aphrodisiac! Meanwhile, cloud ear, strange-looking fungus that does vaguely resemble a human ear, is thought to improve blood circulation. Any kind of mushroom will add texture to a variety of dishes, from soups to stir-fries.