How To Make Cantonese Meatballs? we wanted to show you how to make one of my favorite Dim Sum dishes, beef balls or Chenpi Niurouqiu.
Now, as you might be expecting from Dim Sum dishes at this point, these aren’t your run-of-the-mill Chinese meatball.
A good Dim Sum beef ball’s somehow simultaneously super tender while also having a bit of a springy bite, so quick word of warning that getting there definitely takes a bit of technique.
So right, to get started with Dim Sum beef balls, you’ll need beef.
This is 500 grams of a cut called Shangnao, which’s basically the upper part of the chuck primal cut.
How To Make Cantonese Meatballs?
If you’ve got a good butcher, the top blade is basically the exact same thing, but any sort of lean chuck would get the job done.
Now to soften this up and extract some of the myoglobin, we’ll transfer this to a pot of cool water, and let it soak for at least one hour.
An hour later, squeeze out any excess liquid, and you should see that your soaking water’s gotten pretty obviously red from this whole process.
Now, any fat or membrane still in your beef is gunna make your life a little more difficult later on, so at this point just try your best
to get some of that out.
This is chuck, so you probably won’t be able to get it all just do what you can.
Now take your pieces of beef and get it into dice, and now it’s time to settle in and just start chopping.
I know that this process here can sometimes be a bit intimidating, but unfortunately supermarket ground beef is no substitute.
The reason is is that we’re not trying to get this into a mince, we’re trying to break this down into a paste you might be able
to use a food processor, but we haven’t tested it ourselves.
Now unlike pork, doing this to beef does require a bit of elbow grease, so after 15 minutes of chopping and folding you should be looking at a more uniform whole something that’s about this consistency.
Toss that in a big bowl, and we are ready for step two mixing.
So right, to mix, first toss in 10 grams of salt together with 6 grams of Jianshui alkaline water.
Now as we went over in the Dim Sum ribs recipe, baking soda out of the box is no real sub for this kind of Asian lye water but if
it’s tough to source, feel free to swap for the baked baking soda method that we outlined in that video.
Now give that a thorough stir with your vintage stand mixer on high in one direction only, then slowly start to add 150 grams of ice
cold water bit by bit.
What we’re doing is developing the myosin in the beef to help this come together into a stickier whole melted fat gets in the
way of this process, which’s why the water’s gotta be super cold.
Interestingly, this whole approach actually has a lot of similarities to Western-style emulsified sausages like Mortadella but
after about seven minutes of stirring, it should be a nice even paste and leave subtle streaks on the side of the bowl like this.
Transfer that over to something more refrigerator-sized, thoroughly wash your hands, cover with some plastic wrap, and leave that in the fridge for three hours to let the beef continue to break down.
So right, these beef balls are called Chenpi Niurouqiu because one of their dominant flavors is Chenpi, dried and aged tangerine peel.
Here we’re using two grams worth, and to prep, your peels first reconstitute them in hot, boiled water for twenty minutes the
hot water help remove some of the bitterness.
Then after they’re softened, do the annoying job of scraping off their bitter pith you don’t want that gunk to be in your meatballs.
Then just give them a fine mince, and set ‘em aside.
We’ll also be mixing in five water chestnuts smashed then roughly minced 100 grams of pork fat, gotten into a fine dice, and you could sub suet if you can’t eat pork and 25 grams of cilantro, also roughly minced.
Last thing to prep – a ginger water slurry.
First, smash about an inch or so of ginger, then toss in a bowl together with 100 grams of hot, boiled water.
Let that come down to room temperature, then toss in the freezer until it’s ice cold.
Then just strain out the ginger and add in 85 grams of water chestnut starch.
Apologies for another less common ingredient water chestnut starch helps give this dish its characteristic texture.
Don’t fret if you’ve got extra though, this stuff’s actually one of the traditional starches that were used before cornstarch
came to China, so feel free to use for stir-fries and the like.
Mix that in, and we can make some beef balls.
So now after those three hours in the fridge, the beef feels much softer.
Toss in your ginger water slurry, and stir for a couple of minutes with your vintage stand mixer set to medium.
Then add in 15 grams liaojiu a.k.a. Shaoxing wine, stir well to incorporate, ten grams dark soy sauce and ten grams light soy sauce, and stir that well to incorporate, five grams salt together with a quarter teaspoon MSG, and stir that well, and thirty grams of sugar. you get the idea.
Now add in the cilantro, the water chestnuts, and the tangerine peel gives it a good mix, then go in with the fat.
Combine, then to develop springy-ness we’ll do my favorite technique in all of Chinese cooking ‘dat’-ing the mixture.
Continuously slam that mixture down against the bowl for about a minute to ‘dat’, then add in 75 grams of peanut oil together
with 10 grams of toasted sesame oil.
Mix that for about a minute, data a couple more times for good measure, transfer to a bowl, wash your hands and let that chill in
the fridge for a half-hour.
Now, if you get these beef balls at Dim Sum, they’ll usually be steamed along with some Fuzhu, that is, tofu skin.
Optional but recommended, reconstitute these guys in cool water for about 30 minutes as your beef mixture’s chilling.
Now to form the meatballs, first add a layer of your reconstituted Fuzhu to a steaming plate.
Then oil your hands… take a 70 to 75 gram bit of the beef mixture from it into a ball, and lay it on your plate.
Now this would be one serving at Dim Sum right here, so let’s steam that real quick and we’ll get back to the rest of these in a
So move your plate over a pot of rapidly boiling water the adorable bamboo steamer’s optional by the way… and let those steam on high for twenty minutes.
Then twenty minutes later, shut off the heat, and let it chill there for another two minutes.
Remove, and with that, your beef balls are done.
To serve this however it just wouldn’t be complete without some Gip Tsup on the side, commonly known in English as Worcestershire sauce.
Back to the rest of the beef balls though, this recipe will undeniably make extra unless you’re feeding a crowd.
To keep, toss on a big plate and steam in the same way.
Then once they’re down to room temperature, transfer over to a box for freezing.
Then you can heat them up whenever no need to thaw, just give them at least ten minutes in a steamer.
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