JUICY meatballs combining pork and prawn served in a prawn-infused soup is a delightful way to start a meal. This heritage dish is often eaten in Peranakan households during the Chinese New Year. Prepare this as the first course to a full Peranakan spread.
Total Time: 2 hours
Serves: 5 persons
A: Meat Mixture
400g minced pork
500g prawns, peeled and chopped, set aside heads and shells
4 pieces firm bean curd, pound in a mortar and pestle until smooth
2 Chinese mushrooms, soaked and finely cut with scissors
3 tablespoons canned bamboo shoot, diced
1 spring onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon fried garlic
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce, optional
1 tablespoon cornflour
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
C: Soup Stock
2 litres water
Prawn shells, pound with pestle and mortar
400g pork ribs
1 canned bamboo shoots, drained and cut into strips
2 tablespoons oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and bashed – drain on paper towels
Salt and soy sauce to taste
D: Fried Garlic
5 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
5 shallots, sliced and deep fried
2 stalks, Chinese coriander, finely diced
1. Make fried garlic – heat up oil in a frying pan. Deep fry garlic until golden brown. Drain on paper towel and set it aside. Reserve garlic oil.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine pork and prawn. Purchase minced pork with some fat as they make juicier meatballs.
Using a spatula, mix until well combined.
3. Then add in B seasoning followed by remaining A ingredients.
Mix thoroughly to incorporate into the meat mixture.
Chill it in the fridge if the weather is hot.
4. Meanwhile, bring 2 litres of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add in pork ribs. Reduce heat to medium high and boil for 10-15 minutes.
5. Heat up oil in a wok or frying pan. Pan-fry prawn heads and shells until they turn pink. Set it aside for 5 minutes to cool. Using a mortar and pestle, crush prawn heads and shell coarsely.
Add into a separate saucepan with 1 litre water. Boil 10 minutes.
6. Strain both soup stocks and combine in a saucepan. Add bamboo shoot and fried garlic. Bring to boil for 10-15 minutes. Add salt and soy sauce, to taste.
7. To cook meatballs, dip fingers into garlic oil. Pinch a portion the size of a fish ball. Using your finger tips, shape it roughly into a ball. Gently drop it into soup stock. Repeat until meat mixture is used up.
Cook until meatballs float to the top. Turn heat off immediately.
8. Scoop soup into bowls, about 4-6 meatballs per portion. Garnish with fried shallot and coriander. Serve piping hot!
TIP: Using paper towel, pat dry sliced shallots before frying. Add 1 teaspoon salt during deep frying – this yields crisp fried shallots.
TECHNIQUE: Crushing prawn heads and shells releases briny seafood flavours into the stock.
Photos: Evonne Lyn Lee
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