Steamed Beef Balls are a fairly common dish at Dim Sum restaurants. I don’t have them very often and, in fact, I can’t remember the last time I ordered some. When I cook a steamed meatball dish, I usually use pork but I was perusing the ‘Follow me Foodie’ blog a few days ago and came across a picture of some steamed beef balls that author Mijune tasted at a Vancouver restaurant. I decided that I would give them a try.
Steamed beef balls are generally quite simple, without a lot of additions, but dried orange peel is a common ingredient. Generally, the balls are steamed on a bed of either watercress or strips of bean-curd skin but I have neither at present and so I thought that spinach might do just as well…
- ½ lb. of lean ground beef
- Black Pepper … about ½ tsp. (or to taste)
- 1 ½ tbsp. Oyster Sauce
- 2 slices Ginger
- 1 Scallion
- 2 strips dried Orange Peel
- 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
- 2 tbsp Cornstarch
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. Sugar
- Small handful of Spinach leaves (not shown)
First, mix the baking soda with the meat in a bowl and set aside. This will help to tenderize it. Next, put the orange peel strips in a small bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. Leave these to reconstitute and soften for no less than thirty minutes.
When the orange peel is soft, mince it finely and do the same with the ginger and the white part of the scallion. Slice the green portion into slender rings.
Next, Put all the remaining ingredients except the spinach leaves into the meat. Mix well by stirring with a wooden spoon in one direction only. You need to stir a good fifty times or so until the meat gets sticky. Afterwards, grab the whole blob and throw it hard into the bowl 5 or six times. This process, along with the baking soda will give the meat the soft, almost gelatinous texture that you get in dim sum restaurants. Let the meat then sit in the fridge for at least a half hour.
The Final Steps
Make your meatballs by taking a hefty tablespoon of meat and forming it into walnut size spheres with your hands. It will help if you wet your hands before making each ball. I got 10 balls out of this batch but I could have stretched it to 12 by making them only a little smaller.
Line your steaming dishes with the spinach leaves and place the balls on top. You may wish to use a few extra leaves between some of the balls to prevent them from sticking together. Finally put them to steam over high heat for a good 35 minutes or so.
These balls are quite often served with Worcestershire sauce but I don’t use it often and have none in the house. Accordingly, I just used plain soy.
First, the texture of the meat was just right – springy, smooth and soft. To be honest, I am not actually very keen on this myself but I was aiming for the way they do it in dim sum restaurants and the method above achieved that perfectly.
As for the taste, they were (almost) pretty good except for two things. The first is that there was not quite enough orange peel. I was afraid of overdoing it but the amount I used allowed only the faintest hint to come through and a bit more would have been better.