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Chinese Porcupine Ball Consumption Necessitates New Year Fitness Regime

Chinese Porcupine Balls aka Zhenzhu Rouwan


porcupine balls before steaming

Christmas Eve is our big family celebration. It is food galore; the men in the family head north to get fresh clams, oysters and crab and each family brings some of their favorite dishes to share.  This year, one of the items I brought was an old favorite that I hadn’t made in several years, Chinese Porcupine Balls aka Zhenzhu Rouwan or Pearl Balls. The original recipe is from a very old Saveur Magazine and it references The Cooking of China by Emily Hahn. It is basically a very yummy pork meatball coated in rice. I could probably eat  3 dozen of them at one sitting, which I did, which brings me to my next topic; dieting. Yes, it is time for the dreaded New Year diet.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love New Year’s Day.  I think it is my favorite Holiday. Out with the old, in with the new. I love new resolutions and goals. I usually achieve one or two things from my resolution list and am very happy with that.

It has come to my attention over the last year that the over consumption of pie and porcupine balls has turned my muffin top into a tire.  I was playing tennis the other day in one of our college road trip t-shirts, filling it out quite rotundly, when a guy I was playing with called out, “Hey, Ole Miss”. Oh my gosh, I realized I better not wear that shirt again until my tire is gone, because I literally look like an “Ole Miss”.

This morning, my beloved Coco told me, “Mom, how come you never wear real clothes, only yoga pants? I really like you to wear real clothes.”

“Well, honey, it is because they are the only damn pants that fit….”

6 month fitness/diet tracker

January 2103 diet tracker

So, the New Year Diet is back on the list. This time I have made some handy charts to help my progress. The first  is an 18″x24″ 6 month fitness/ food tracking chart  that I am going to place in my bathroom. { 6 month fitness/ diet tracker } Since the Lieutenant will be able to see it, I will not be filling out the weight section where it is visible to him. Some things must remain a mystery in a marriage. The second chart is just the month of January 2013 tracker, which I will print out at 8 1/2″ x 11″ to carry with me at all times. {January 2013 diet/ fitness calendar}

My New Year’s Resolution List

  • Organize time better; don’t put off until tomorrow what can be done today
  • Organize finances better; keep everything itemized on quickbooks
  • Finish sewing the tennis skorts begun in 2011; & sew more
  • Become proficient at Adobe Illustrator
  • Build a play house for Coco
  • Make reading a priority with Coco
  • Work on the yard more than once this summer
  • Organize garage so at least one vehicle can be parked in it
  • Help “Storage Room” become “Bonus Room” again
  • Get better at blogging; Post twice a week on the blog, Post more architecture projects, Attend a conference (I’m signed up already for the 2013 International Food Blogger Conference )
  • Improve memory; to this end I’ve ordered Moonwalking with Einstein to read
  • Be kinder
  • Paint trim
  • Write letter to cousin Richard in Wales
  • Diet and workout; Become a lean mean tennis machine
  • Make porcupine meatballs again next Christmas

Chinese Porcupine Balls aka Zhenahu Rouwan aka Pearl Balls

Original recipe from Saveur Magazine adapted from The Cooking of China by Emily Hahn


  • 1 1/2 cups sticky (glutinous) rice
  • 8 fresh shitake mushrooms or dried Chinese black mushrooms
  • 2 pounds ground pork (finely ground preferred, but regular works fine)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1 T. (I am reducing to 2t.. next time) salt
  • 1 t. sugar
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 12 canned water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
  • enough napa cabbage leaves to cover the bottom of your steamer

Cooking Directions:

  1. Soak rice in 3 cups cold water for 2 hours. If you are using dried mushrooms rehydrate them in water for 30 to 60 minutes. Trim mushroom stems and finely chop caps; set aside. Drain rice and spread out on dish towel to dry a little more. Transfer rice to a wide dish.
  2. Combine pork, egg, soy sauce, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add mushrooms, ginger, chestnuts and scallions. Mix well.
  3. Shape pork mixture into small meatballs, about the size of a teaspoon. Since the Wilsons like big and I am not very patient, I make mine about quadruple this size. Roll meatballs in the the rice, coating well.
  4. Place meatballs in a steamer lined with napa cabbage leaves. The original recipe called for blanched leaves, but skipping this step did not seem to hurt the end product. Steam for 8-10 minutes (a little more if you make them big like me) until the pork and rice are cooked.
  5. The original recipe said to serve with bowls of white rice, but I just serve them with pot sticker sauce as an appetizer.
  6. De-lish-us!

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