Thursday, August 11, 2005

Childhood Comfort Food - Taiwanese Style Meatballs

Pickled Cucumber Meatballs
♥ Taiwanese Style Meatballs
This is one of my favourite childhood comfort food - gua zhi rou wan - Taiwanese pickled cucumber meatballs. This dish is very children-friendly in that the two main ingredients - minced meat and pickled cucumber - are highly popular among children.

Mum sometimes get lazy and skipped the step in shaping into cute little balls. She simply placed all the mince mixture into a big plate and steam it. What you get is gua zhi rou bing - pickled cucumber meat pattie. There isn't really an exact recipe but I have here a rough guide. Hopefully you might find it useful.

♥ tabeshimashita @ pinkcocoa's kitchen sometime in August 2005
Pickled Cucumber Meatballs - A Closer Look
Gua Zhi Rou Wan - Pickled Cucumber Meatballs
This dish is particularly nice with congee. Strangely enough the combination of pickled cucumber, minced meat and congee remind me of the time I was sick with a poor appetite! The pickled cucumber is appetising, the congee is soothing while the mince provides a good source of protein.

Gua Zhi Rou Wan - Taiwanese Pickled Cucumber Meatballs

500g minced pork
50g-75g Taiwanese pickled cucumber (hua gua)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 stick of spring onion (scallion)


1tsp chinese rice wine
2tbsp juice from bottle of pickled cucumber
3tbsp soy sauce
1/2 C water

  1. Finely chop garlic, spring onions and pickled cucumber.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together mince pork, garlic, spring onions, pickled cucumber and seasoning A.
  3. Now comes the fun part. Grab the mince mixture in your hand, held it a little higher than the bowl then drop it as hard as you can. Keep pounding the mince mixture until it is slighty sticky, about 3-5 minutes, depending on how hard you pound it.
  4. Shape about 1 tablespoonful of the mince into ball and arrange with slight gap between each ball on a plate.
  5. Mix seasoning B and pour over the meatballs. Place into steamer and steam for around 20 minutes. Do note that the water must be boiling at time of placing the dish in.

I sometimes add in chopped chinese mushroom (soaked) and finely chopped carrots which usually hide quite well inside the mince - a very good way to get kids who don't love vegetable some vegetable in their meals! The pictures I have here are meatballs that have omitted spring onions (I ran out of them) and I added finely chopped water chestnuts for an extra crunch.

Pickled Cucumber Meatballs - Taiwanese Salted Pickled Cucumber
Hua Gua - Taiwanese pickled cucumber
Here is a picture of the pickled cucumber that I used. It is known as hua gua in Chinese. It literary means "flower melon". I am not so sure about the origin of the name though I think the name is quite lovely. I am using a brand from Taiwan called Wei Chuan where hua gua is translated as salted preserved cucumber.

Pickled Cucumber Meatballs - Salted Pickled Cucumber
Hua Gua - Taiwanese pickled cucumber
This is how the pickled cucumber that I used look like - long and stripy. Taiwanese pickled cucumber comes in other form too. The other most common form is tiny round bite-sized slices.

It is very similar to American pickles but the taste is completely different. I find the American pickles slightly more soury and acidic while the Taiwanese one milder and sweeter.