Sweet and Sour Meatballs

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
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4 to 6 servings
  • 1 lb (450g) lean ground beef
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ⅛ 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
  • ¾ cup (180ml) reserved pineapple juice
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  1. 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.
  2. Shape into 1¼-inch diameter meatballs.
  3. Place meatballs onto a non-stick baking pan and bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 30 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  4. Mix all sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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)


Subscribe for email updates!



  1. says

    Biren I love that we both made sweet and sour meatballs for this and that they are so completely different! It’s so interesting how the concept of what makes a good meatball changes around the world. I can’t wait to try your version!

    • Biren says

      Yes, it is interesting that both dishes have the same name and yet are so different. Your version sounds delicious and I need to make some soon!

      This meatball feature was a lot of fun! :)

  2. says

    While I love my version of these, they are almost bland to what you’re describing. We don’t take making meatballs to THAT level of perfection (springy?), but ask any German and they will tell you that the love themselves a good “Fleischfrikadelle”. Typically ours are way bigger than what everybody else makes, too. These look WONDERFUL.

    • Biren says

      I know my boys will really enjoy your German version. For them the larger the better. So good to learn about other types of meatballs. I don’t have to make the same ones over and over again.

  3. says

    How interesting to hear about something like texture! I never thought it would be that important as I always assumed meatballs should be relatively soft and crumbly… but now I understand meatballs and fishballs for hotpots!

    • Biren says

      Tender meatballs are so tasty and delicious in a sauce. Springy ones are better in a soup or hotpot. Yes, fishballs! Way to go Pola! 😀

  4. says

    Biren – It’s really interesting to learn about “springy meatballs”. I wish you told me this before I tried 3 times to make sure my meatballs came out tender! Just kidding… This really looks delicious with colorful fruits and vegetables. I can’t wait to try.

  5. says

    Biren, these meatballs with the veggies look so good to me, I love meatballs and need to take the time to make them more often. Thanks for sharing your recipe;-)

    • Biren says

      Thanks Patty! We enjoyed them very much. I just needed to cook some rice to go with this dish as it has both protein and veges in it.

  6. says

    Now I know that’s how they make springy meatballs I was wondering for a long time how Chinese restaurants do it. Thanks for that tip, I will use that as soon as I can. BTW I love your Sweet and sour meatballs, thats truly an Asian style

  7. says

    You know how there is a cookie monster? I’m a meatball monster. I could eat all of them!! I love this world on a plate meatball addition. I think your meatballs are outstanding. YUM! Have a great week! ~ Ramona

  8. says

    I love seeing how meatballs are cooked by different cultures! This is a really unique version that I’ve never seen before. Thanks for sharing!

  9. says

    Great idea for a blogging group, sounds like lots of fun! These meatballs look SO good – great flavors, love them! Definitely need to give these a try sometime soon.

  10. says

    This oriental style meatballs look so delicious. Love your style of Asian-western fusion cooking…just like eating from the best of both world 😀

    Btw, Thanks Biren for your Honey Castella cake! Your recipe is superb! You make my castella dream come true LOL! 😀

    • Biren says

      Thanks Zoe! I try to use local ingredients for my Asian style dishes and sometimes I end up with combinations the family really enjoys. This is one of them. :)

      You are most welcomed! :) I am glad to hear that you finally succeeded in making castella. The version I described is relatively fuss-free.

  11. Dongxing says

    Love the World on a Plate platform – so nice to be able to see all the different takes on the same subject, it is a great idea. Love your meat ball recipe, again I like the fuss free baking version. My kids love meatballs, hot or cold, as a snack or incorporated into a meal with sauce. Our favourite is swedish meatballs, can never get enough of them! Thanks for sharing your recipe

  12. says

    Biren, so interesting on the meatballs, and this World on a Plate is so cool! I want to check it out more. I can’t believe all you do! Funny I made meatballs this week, but I never use ground beef, usually pork or chicken. I know my family will love your sauce!

  13. says

    Biren, it is so interesting on the meatballs, and the World on a Plate.. I’ll have to check it out. I can’t believ all you do. Funny I made meatball this past week too, I like to bake them as well, but usually use pork ot chicken. I know my family would love yours and that fantastic sauce!

  14. says

    Hi Biren :) Love your meatball dish, it looks like a rainbow on a plate! My boys love meatballs, both springy (as a mattress) and tender fall-apart-in-the-mouth ones. Swedish meatballs are an especial favourite in our home and leftover meatballs in any guise are a coveted commodity lol. When I was very much younger, I used to help my mother scrape fish of the bone and watch her pound and pound the fish meat to make bouncy fishballs. Definitely no fun there, but eating them in steamboat was fantastic *sigh* Btw, your home page looks so polished and professional. Very impressive!

    • Biren says

      What an unexpected surprise! Good to see you here my friend. :) As long as it is meatballs, we love it – springy or tender. Oh yes, I remember the fish scrapping bit. Not fun but the end product was delicious. If only I can get tenggiri or saitoh here…

      Thanks for the compliment! It was quite challenging creating the home page but I am glad I did it. :)

  15. says

    Oops maybe it did read the CAPTCHA code even though the computer said it didn’t. You can delete on of my comments above Thanks Biren!! I’ll have to try a “springy” meatball and see how I like it :)

    Have a great weeken!

  16. says

    WOW – definitely one to bookmark for the family! And I already told you how I like that picture – so colourful and appetizing!

  17. says

    That sounds like a great blog event :) And these meatballs are so interesting! I don’t eat meat so I have never seen this process before, but my family loves meatball and would enjoy this lovely dish :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Rate this recipe: