When I first heard of this meatballs, I didn’t think much of them – I assumed they were meatballs that had daikon mixed into a raw pork mixture and steamed. But the more I read about them, the more fascinated I was. The pork is cooked, not raw. So what binds the mixture together is starch – some use cornstarch, but I chose to go with tapioca starch for its QQ texture and the translucence of the meatballs when steamed. Many recipes online do not use tanghoon, but some cooks insist on it. I was skeptical about frying the tanghoon before working it into the mixture – Vietnamese springrolls use rehydrated rice vermicelli in their filling, but definitely not puffed noodles. But the lightly browned, crispy noodles added such great texture and flavour that it is worth the extra elbow grease. If you enjoy the texture of glutinous rice or kueh, and the flavours of abacus seeds, you would definitely love these.
Hakka radish meatballs
Serves 4-6 as part of a meal
400g peeled daikon, cut into thin strips
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons oil
55g dried tang hoon, broken up or cut up
1 dried cuttlefish, soaked in hot water, remove backbone and eyes, diced finely
20g dried shrimp, soaked and chopped
5 small dried mushrooms, soaked and diced
225g minced fatty pork
1 tablespoon fish sauce
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon chicken powder
65g tapioca starch
1. Mix the daikon with salt and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
2. Squeeze dry and transfer the daikon into a large bowl.
3. Heat up the oil and fry the tanghoon until puffed and light golden.
4. Transfer the tanghoon to a paper towel to drain.
5. In the remaining oil in the wok, fry the cuttlefish, shrimp and mushroom until fragrant.
6. Add pork and fry until the meat loses its pinkness
7. Add meat mixture and tanghoon to the daikon and mix well.
8. Add seasonings and adjust with more salt if desired.
9. Add tapioca starch and mix well.
10. Press into golf-ball sized balls.
11. Steam 10 minutes on high heat.
12. Cool slightly before eating.