Friday, December 26, 2014

Steamed Siu Mai (Meatballs)--Ah Ma's style (makes about 28 balls)

When I was a small child living in Vietnam my mother made me steamed siu mai or meatballs and bought me orange soda when I got ill. I rarely get sick so I had these items only a few times. Since then I often associated these meatballs and orange soda as sick food. I think my mother gave me orange soda so I can burp and feel better! While chatting and sharing stories my Ah Ma (grandmother), Tua Y (eldest aunt) and Kiem (maternal uncle's wife) explained how to make these meatballs. Of course they tell me ingredients with vague measurements since none of them ever measure! Their delicious Teochew home-style siu mai has a drizzle of tomato sauce over them. After making these I was sure I added too much salt but these turned out quite good. These are especially tasty eaten with baguette or banh mi. After I steamed these siu mai I gave one to my Ah Ma to try. She was hesitant to take it since she thought I was giving her mice balls. Earlier she saw (with her one good eye!) that I was preparing mice to grill. After I told her it's not mice she ate it and actually gave me her approval. These siu mai are even better the next day since they soaked up all the delicious sauce. You may reheat by re-steaming or microwaving them. Place some inside a baguette and make banh mi siu mai (siu mai Vietnamese sandwich), a very popular type of sandwich in my family. You may add a few drops of the Maggie soy sauce (these German brand has a much better taste and fragrance than other brand of soy sauce) over the siu mai. The result is "ngon" in Vietnamese or "haw chia" (tasty) in Teochew as my Ah Ma told me.

this lady sells only jicama (the tan bulb roots) and shallots
(that's cousin, Ken buying jicama--she will kill me if she sees her picture here)
Steamed Siu Mai (Steamed Meatballs)--Ah Ma's style (makes about 28 balls)


14 oz of pork (about 400 grams), minced well using a cleaver (yields about 2 cups)
1/2 medium jicama, finely chopped (about 1 cup), squeezed juice out with palms, reserved the pulp
3 Tbsp minced shallots
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp good soy sauce (preferably Maggie--German brand)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt (optional)
1 tsp chicken broth powder (preferably non-MSG)
Tomato sauce (recipe to follow), optional
Chopped fresh cilantro, garnish


1) Mix all ingredients (pork, jicama pulp, shallots, garlic, soy sauce, sugar, salt, and chicken powder) gently until well blended.  Avoid over mixing.
2) Form each ball about 1 1/4 inch diameter.
3) Place the balls on a plate and steam for about 1/2 hour or until the meatballs are cooked.
4) Drizzle the tomato sauce and sprinkle some chopped cilantro over the steamed meatballs.

Tomato Sauce


2 tsp oil
1 small shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium tomatoes, de-seeded and minced
1/8 tsp of chicken broth powder (preferably non-MSG)
A pinch of sugar
About 3 Tbsp of Steamed Siu Mai's (Steamed Meatballs) broth or water
A few Tbsp of extra water if needed (if the contents get too dry)


1) Heat a small pan over medium high heat. Once the pan is heated add oil.
2) Add shallots and garlic. Saute about 2 minutes.
3) Add tomatoes, chicken broth powder, sugar and Siu Mai's broth. Stir occasionally for about 5 minutes. May add a little water if the sauce gets too dry.

*This recipe has a little more salt than I normally eat. However, you may omit salt or add less of it if prefer. In my family we do not use fish sauce in these recipes.

with my Ah Ma (2014)
*You may have noticed that many elder Chinese will sit in such a way as my grandmother poses here. They believe that one should show all fingers and feet so people can see there are no limbs or digits missing! 

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