Chewology chef Katie Liu-Sung’s recipe for Taiwanese pearl meatballs

Taiwanese pearl meatballs, pork meatballs rolled in sticky rice, served with chopsticks
Give us this over a bracelet any day. | Photo by Chewology

Reader Sue E. asked us for recipes from local restaurants. Our response: order up.

Chewology chef Katie Liu-Sung is helping us kick off this new series at KCtoday with a dish from her childhood: Taiwanese pearl meatballs. With a little prep, this recipe is super fun + easy to make — and while it isn’t on the restaurant’s regular menu, keep an eye out, and you might just see it offered as a special.

Ingredients (makes 30 meatballs)

  • 1 cup glutinous rice* (Nishiki, RiceSelect, and Hakubai are some options.)
  • 3/4 pound lean ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white peppercorns
  • 1/4 pound finely chopped shrimp
  • 8 freshwater chestnuts, finely minced, rinsed, peeled and minced*
  • 1/4 cup minced green onion
  • 1 egg


  • Bamboo steamer* (or similar)
  • Lotus or cabbage leaves*
Chef Katie Liu-Sung
Chef Katie Liu-Sung | Photo by Pilsen Photo Co-op


  1. Soak rice in water for 3 hours; drain. (This ensures the rice cooks evenly.)
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine pork with ginger, garlic, sugar, salt, sesame oil, and white pepper. Mix until pork takes on a sticky consistency. Mix in shrimp, water chestnuts, onions, and egg until well combined.
  3. Line bamboo steamers with soaked lotus or cabbage leaves. Roll seasoned pork into 30 balls the size of a tablespoon. Spread rice on a plate and gently roll each meatball over grains to cover the entire meatball and place in the steamer. Steam meatballs over boiling water on high for 20 minutes.
  4. Serve meatballs in the bamboo steamer or move to a serving plate.

*Glutinous rice, freshwater chestnuts, lotus leaves, and bamboo steamers are found at Asian supermarkets. Glutinous rice is also gluten-free (despite the name).