Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Meatballs are a favorite at our house. They are so versatile and appear often in the lunchboxes and on the dinner table as a side or main dish. Homemade ones are just the best as all kinds of goodies can be mixed in or cooked with them like this Sweet and Sour Meatballs dish. There can never be too many meatballs and leftovers exist only because I plan for them.

Most meatballs here are made with ground beef. Occasionally you may find some made with ground pork, chicken, or turkey. These meatballs may contain some bread crumbs, minced onion, milk, eggs, and spices. The texture is soft and tender and they are often cooked in a sauce. Where I grew up, meatballs tend to have a more springy texture. In fact, a good meatball is one that bounces back when bitten into. A soft meatball is considered inferior. The most popular meatballs are made with ground fish but ground shrimp, squid, pork, and chicken are also frequently used. Beef meatballs are less common.

Many are obsessed with trying to perfect their method of making springy meatballs. Some have resorted to adding a little chemical but that discussion is for another time. The old fashion method is to use some good ‘ol elbow grease. Start by adding a little corn starch and salt solution to the meat and then pound away at it with a stone pestle. The meat will start forming into a smooth paste as it is being pounded. Shape the paste into meatballs and drop them into barely boiling water. Fish them out of the water and shock them in cold water. At least that is the theory… Mom uses the pounding method to make fish paste for yong tau foo (stuffed tofu and vegetables) and that fish paste filling is mighty springy! :)

Before we continue, I am excited to tell you a little bit about this logo here. World on a Plate is a blogging cultural exchange and the brainchild of Paola from An Italian Cooking in the Midwest. On the last Sunday of each month, a group of us from different corners of the earth will get together to post a dish using the featured food. Each person represents a country and I am of course representing Malaysia with its 3 major ethnic groups – Malay, Chinese, and Indian. I get to showcase dishes using the featured food from any one of these cultures.

The inaugural feature of World on a Plate is … you guessed it … MEATBALLS! I am sharing meatballs with the classic sweet and sour sauce from the Chinese community. I added a medley of fruits and vegetables for color. Springy meatballs are usually cooked in a soup but since I am not doing that today, I have purposely made the meatballs less springy but they still hold together nicely. I used the “throwing” or “slapping” method instead of the “pounding” method. I know it all sounds like a lot of aggression but it is a good way to relieve stress at the end of a long day. ;)

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

In Malaysia, we usually make our own sweet and sour sauce using a combination of ketchup, sweet chili sauce, vinegar, sugar, and salt. For this recipe I used the pineapple juice from the canned pineapples and tomato paste. As the juice is already fairly sweet, I only needed a teaspoon of sugar to round off the taste nicely. Cornstarch is added as a thickener. I hope you will give this Sweet and Sour Meatballs a try.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Sweet and Sour Meatballs


  • 1 lb (450g) lean ground beef
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ red bell pepper, cubed
  • 1 cup snow peas, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 cup (150g) cubed pineapples in natural juice
  • Sauce
  • ¾ cup (180ml) reserved pineapple juice
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp corn starch


In a large bowl, mix together ground beef, salt, pepper, and corn starch. 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.

Place meatballs onto a non-stick baking pan and bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 30 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Mix all sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.

Heat a tablespoon canola oil in a large wok or pan over medium high heat. Sauté onions until lightly brown. Add red bell peppers and snow peas. Stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes until vegetables turn to a bright color. Remove and set aside.

Heat remaining tablespoon of oil and sauté garlic for 30 seconds. Pour in sauce mixture. When sauce comes to a boil and thickens, add cooked meatballs. Allow meatballs to cook through. Finally, add cooked vegetables and pineapples. Stir to get everything well coated with sauce, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove and serve immediately with steamed rice.


Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Please do click on the linky below to find out what the others are doing with their meatballs.

Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 8)