Crispy Pork Balls


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yields 16 small meatballs, enough to serve


    as an hors d’oeuvre .

Appears in

Meatballs of all types are common throughout China. One finds them steamed, boiled, or fried—in soup, nested in casseroles, rolled in rice, or presented plain. In their simplest presentation they usually feature an intriguing texture and a sprightly dipping sauce, as in this recipe.

  • The food processor makes these pork balls a one-work-bowl, 10-minute recipe, perfect for a quick hors d’oeuvre or an easy supper. The filling may be done a day in advance and the meatballs shaped and refrigerated hours ahead. The straightforward spatter-free frying should be done at the last minute, so the meatballs are crisp and without a trace of grease.


  • ½ pound ground pork butt


  • 1 thin whole scallion, cut into 1½-inch lengths
  • 1 small walnut-size nugget fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander several grinds fresh black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons thin (regular) soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine or quality, dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese or Japanese sesame oil (increase to teaspoon for overly lean pork)
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2–3 tablespoons rice flour
  • 4–6 cups peanut or corn oil, for deep-frying


Making the meat mixture

Mince the scallion, ginger, and coriander in the dry work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel knife, scraping down the bowl as necessary until fine. Add the pork and remaining seasonings, then process until combined. The mixture will be a smooth paste. If you do not have a processor, mince the scallion, ginger, and coriander by hand until fine, then combine with the pork and the remaining seasonings, stirring in one direction to blend. Then turn the seasoned meat out on a board and chop it up and down across the length and width to mince it to a fine texture. Sealed airtight, the mixture can be refrigerated 24 hours.

Shaping the meatballs

Oil your palms and a teaspoon with a bit of sesame oil or com or peanut oil, so the meat will not stick to them. Spread the rice flour in a shallow dish. Scoop up 1 rounded tablespoon of the pork mixture with the spoon, then roll it lightly between your palms to form a Ping-Pong-size ball. Roll the ball gently in the rice flour to coat it evenly, then put the finished meatball aside on an oiled plate. Once all the meatballs are shaped, they may be refrigerated up to 2 hours, sealed airtight.

Frying the meatballs

Have the meatballs, a Chinese mesh spoon or slotted spoon, and a tray lined with a double thickness of paper towels within easy reach of your stovetop.

Heat a wok or heavy skillet over high heat until hot. Add the oil and heat to the light-haze stage, 350° on a deep-fry thermometer, when a bit of meat rises slowly to the surface within 3–4 seconds. Drop the meatballs gently one by one into the oil, frying about 8 at a time. Fry for 3 minutes, separating and turning them. Raise the heat and continue to fry for an additional 2 minutes. In this final frying the oil should climb to 375° and wear a light haze. Remove the meatballs promptly from the oil, hold them briefly above the pot to drain, then put aside on the towel-lined tray. If making a double or triple batch, keep the first batch warm on the tray in a 300° oven while frying the rest.

When the oil cools, strain it through several layers of cheesecloth to remove the flour, and bottle and refrigerate it for future use.

When all the meatballs are fried, arrange them around a dip dish of sauce on a heated serving platter of contrasting color. Spear the meatballs with toothpicks if you are using them as an hors d’oeuvre, and serve immediately.

Leftover meatballs are good cold munchies, whole, or sliced in a salad for lunch.