Thai Chicken Pearl Balls

I first made these in culinary school and have been in love with this easy and delicious recipe ever since. Granted you have to do a little prep over two days but it is so worth it. Be it for a snack or a meal, these delicious and protein-packed pearls of wisdom are a treat combining lots of flavor, protein, whole grain carbs and fun. Use one type of sticky rice or get wild like I did with three kinds..but make these you must. Original recipe calls for pork but organic ground chicken is a lighter option.

Thai Chicken Pearl Balls


  • 1 cup glutinous rice (also called sweet or sticky rice, available at Chinese or Asian markets). I used black, brown and a lovely green version that lost most of it's color while soaking but still showed a contrast next to the other two options.

  • 1 pound ground chicken

  • 2 large scallions (spring onions) minced (at least 3 tablespoons)

  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro/coriander chopped

  • 1 large egg white

  • 2 tablespoon Thai fish sauce or light soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoon rice vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon Thai yellow curry paste (available in Asian markets)

  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder or 1 tablespoon of grated, fresh ginger

  • 1 teaspoon of coriander powder

  • black or white pepper, to taste (I prefer white for Asian cooking)

  • 4 teaspoon cornstarch, arrow root, or tapioca powder (or as needed for helping your rolled balls stay together better)


  1. Soak the glutinous rice in water preferably overnight, but for no less than 8 hrs.

  2. Drain well in a sieve or colander.

  3. Keep the rices separate in their own bowls. I find using a cereal bowl is best and helps with coating the balls on all sides. Note: Drain and cover the bowls with plastic wrap before making the pearl balls, so that the rice doesn't dry out too much.

  4. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, fish sauce, sherry, green onion, water chestnuts, salt, pepper, egg white and cornstarch.

  5. Prepare the steamer for steaming. Line the bottom of your metal or bamboo steamer with lettuce or cabbage leaves.

  6. Line a dinner plate with plastic wrap for the formed balls to rest on.

  7. Take about 1 tablespoon of the ground pork mixture and form into a ball with slightly damp hands.

  8. I find it's easier to form all of the balls at once and then coat them in the rice.

  9. Roll lightly over the glutinous rice and place on a plate to await steaming.

  10. Continue with the rest of the chicken mixture, you may have left over rice. If so keep in mind it has come in contact with raw chicken so discard it or add it to soup the next day and cook well.

  11. Place the rice-covered balls in your steamer in a single layer.

  12. Cover and steam the pearl balls over boiling water for between 15 - 25 minutes, until they are cooked through. You may find that using brown sticky rice requires a slightly longer cooking time. Steam in two batches if needed.

  13. Serve the pearl balls hot with soy sauce.


  • Italian: use white sticky rice and italian herbs in your chicken mixture. Serve with a warm marinara

  • Indian: utilize Indian spices and ingredients and serve with raita yogurt sauce (see following post)

  • Mexican: add hoja santa and roasted garlic plus a hit of chipotle and extra cumin

#chicken #groundchicken #pearlball #rice #stickyrice #soysauce #thaifood #ginger #scallion #steamed #lowfat #wholegrains #healthycarbs

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