Chinese or East Asian meatballs are quite different from their Western counterpart. The key difference is in the texture. While Western meatballs are soft and more loosely formed, Chinese meatballs are often dense, smooth, and springy. The more springy and bouncy the texture, the better. These meatballs can be made with beef, pork, chicken, fish, shrimp, or squid and are a favorite ingredient in soups as they hold their shape and do not disintegrate.
The texture is a matter of preference and many do enjoy less chewy and softer meatballs. The ones shown here today are a little soft but they do hold their shape in the soup. These are really easy to make and are great for little kiddies and adults alike. They are also good used as stuffing for vegetables. Perhaps I will make the springy ones at a later time.
This soup also features kale, my current favorite vegetable. I like its taste and texture, not to mention the vitamins A, C, K, and dietary fiber packed in those curly leaves. Do check out my other recipes featuring this nutritious vegetable, Fettuccini with Kale, Chickpeas, and Tomatoes and Caldo Verde – Portuguese Green Soup.
- 6 cups (1.5 liters) chicken stock
- Salt and pepper
- 12 oz (340g) soba
- 1 bunch kale, rinsed, stem remove, and sliced ½ inch thick
- 1 lb (450g) extra lean minced beef
- 2 green onions, finely sliced
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- Sesame oil
- Bonito shavings
- In a large bowl, mix together minced beef, green onions, corn starch, and pepper. Gather meat in hand and throw against the side of the bowl for about 3 to 4 minutes. Meat will come together in a ball. Shape into 1¼-inch diameter meatballs.
- Bring chicken stock to boil in a large pot. Add meatballs and season with salt and pepper. Allow meatballs to cook for about 10 minutes. Skim off scum.
- In the meantime, boil soba in another pot for about 5 minutes or according to packaging instructions. Remove and drain. Divide into 4 bowls.
- Add kale to beef ball soup. Boil for 3 to 4 minutes or until kale turns a bright green color. Do not overcook the kale.
- Turn off heat. Spoon beef balls, kale, and soup over soba. Garnish with sesame oil, bonito shavings, and togarashi. Serve immediately.
I am a big fan of sichimi togarashi (seven flavor chili pepper) and sprinkle it over noodles, nabes (hotpots), and grilled meats. It is a most convenient seasoning to have at the table to give certain dishes a subtle level of heat. The mix may vary but it usually consists of red chili pepper, hemp seeds, black sesame seeds, poppy seeds, orange peel, sansho (prickly ash), and nori. They come in 15g bottles but those get used up too quickly at our house. I prefer to buy the 200g or 500g bags to fill my various togarashi containers.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 8)