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Rice-Studded Meatballs

1 cup long-grain white rice
2 to 4 outer leaves iceberg or romaine lettuce
1 lb Piedmontese ground beef
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or medium-dry Sherry
1 bunch scallions (white and pale green parts only), minced (1/3 cup)
1/2 cup diced (1/4 inch) rinsed and drained canned water chestnuts
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon egg white, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Special equipment: a large collapsible metal steamer rack

> Soak rice in hot tap water in a large bowl while preparing meat mixture.
> While rice soaks, put a metal steamer rack in a deep 12 inch skillet or a wide 6 quart pot and add enough water to reach 1/2 inch below bottom of steamer rack. Remove steamer rack from skillet and line rack with lettuce.
> Stir together remaining ingredients (except rice) until combined well.
> Drain rice in a sieve and transfer to a shallow dish.
> Roll about 1 tablespoon meat mixture into a ball and roll in rice to coat, then transfer to steamer rack. Make about 30 more coated balls in same manner (use all of meat mixture; there will be leftover rice) and arrange in 1 layer on steamer rack.
> Bring water to a boil and set steamer rack in skillet. Cover tightly and steam over high heat until cooked through, about 25 minutes. Check water occasionally, adding more as necessary.