STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS WITH PICTURES
We need 1 lb. of pork shoulder but I usually buy a bit more than 1 lb. because you have to trim off all the fat and silver skin. It does require some patience and time. You may ask why don’t you just use pork so you don’t have to trim it. You could pork loin is more tender than pork shoulder, the final meatball texture will be slightly different. Also, make sure your meat is as fresh as possible otherwise the meatball will turn out soggy and lose.
Once the pork is nice and clean, roughly cut it into bite-size pieces.
Transfer the meat into a food processor. Use the on and off button to blend for a minute or 2. Do not use store-bought ground pork because I have tried it, it doesn’t work the same. Stop the machine a few times and give it a stir so everything grinds evenly.
Keep an eye on the texture. This is what you are looking for. You can still see a bit of those stringy muscle fibers but if you rub the meat in between your fingers, it is so smooth like a paste and you are able to spread it out evenly. Like this is perfect.
Transfer the ground pork into a KitchenAid mixing bowl, along with all the seasonings: 1.5 tsp of salt, 1 tbsp of soy sauce, 2 tsp of sugar, 1/2 tsp of baking soda, 1.5 tsp of garlic powder, 1/2 tsp of freshly ground white pepper, and 2.5 tbsp (30 grams / 1 oz) of crushed ice. When the machine is running, it will create a lot of heat, adding ice will make sure your meat stays fresh and cold. Give this a rough mix before we run the machine.
Set the speed at medium-low. Use the flat beater and let it run for 8 minutes. You could do this by hand which I have done it before. I just set the timer and non-stop whisking it within one direction. To be honest, it is very tiring. If you don’t have a KitchenAid, it is a lot of workouts.
Stop the machine a few times in the middle and go in with your spatula to scrape down the sides and the bottom
While waiting for the machine, you can quickly make aromatic starch water.
In a blender, add 4 cloves of garlic, 3 slices of ginger, 1 scallion, which is cut into short pieces; 150 grams of cold water, and blend this into a puree. The colder the better as it keeps your meat fresh.
Let it go through a sieve directly into 150 grams of sweet potato starch. This is what I am using, you can also use tapioca starch or potato starch. Mix well until there are no lumps. It should be a thick batter like this.
By now, the KitchenAid should be done mixing. We are going to pour the starch batter into the meat in 3 batches. Make sure to give it a rough mix to incorporate everything then keep mixing for a few minutes. Add a little more starch batter. Incorporate everything again. Make sure your spatula goes under the meat to scrape the bottom. Let it run for another few minutes. Continue to do this until all the sweet potato starch batter is gone and well mixed into the meat.
You can do this whole process by hand, but I will warn you that as you are stirring it, the meat will gelatinize, and it becomes really sticky. The mixture will resist you and it takes a lot of force to finish the process. Your arm will be sore for sure.
This is the texture you are looking for. Transfer it onto a flat plate. I know it looks weird at this moment. Don’t worry.
Fill a pot with stock, any stock will work here, such as beef, chicken, vegetable. You can even use water. Bring it to a simmer. Then turn the heat to low. We will scrape the meat into the soup little by little. Between every scrape, you have to dip your chopstick into the stock to prevent sticking. I know this looks nothing like a ball, but Fuzhou people call it meatball. I think they do make it into round balls originally but later on they find this way is a lot faster and the taste is the same. Well, you could form it into a ball shape as long as you have time for that.
Alright, all the meatballs are in the soup. let's crank up the heat and bring it back to a boil. And continue to cook this for 3-5 minutes.
While waiting, let me show you how to assemble 1 serving of soup. This recipe is enough to make 4-5 servings. Fuzhou people like to season their soup by the individual portion so you can adjust the flavor depending on the person's preference. There is no exact amount but if you want to follow my taste, here is how I like it
- About 2 tsp of ginger, thinly julienned,
- 1 tbsp of finely minced garlic
- 1.5 tbsp of fish sauce, Fouzhou is a coastal city so it is very common to use fish sauce.
- 1.5 tbsp of Chinese black vinegar, if you don’t have it, use balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp of sugar
- A few tbsp of diced cilantro
- 1 tsp of hot chili, you can skip this if you can’t handle spicy food
- 1 tbsp of dried baby shrimp,
- a handful of seaweed. Baby shrimp and the seaweed are optional, but I love the umami taste they provide.
- 1/2 tbsp of pork lard, you can use butter if you prefer
- Some freshly ground white pepper to taste.
Add the meatballs along with the hot broth, about 2 cups. Let the heat activate all the flavor. Enjoy!