The meatball is a food that transcends cultures. Char siu pork meatballs, are one of the most popular pork dishes in Chinese/Cantonese cuisine and one of the most ordered dishes in restaurants.
They are full of all the flavors we love in Chinese food takeout. Salty, sweet, smoky, charred edges with juicy tender pork inside. Todays recipe was inspired by Chinese char siu with the use of 5-spice powder giving them that unmistakable flavor. This is a blend of star anise, fennel seeds, Sichuan peppercorns, cloves, and Chinese cinnamon.
Char siu, loses something in its basic English name, barbecued pork. This sweetly marinated and basted meat has become a symbol of comfort food in Cantonese cuisine and means so much more than just barbecued or roasted meat.
The traditional dish is made from seasoned boneless pork. The pork is covered in a sweet, savory glaze and placed on wooden skewers or forks over low heat. It’s cooked until tender but not falling apart. The use of the skewers changes how the meat cooks. It should heat slowly and evenly from all sides. The char siu marinade is very distinctive in its flavor. Many cuts of pork can be used in char siu such as neck meat, pork belly and pork butt. Just about any lean boneless cut will work but I like pork tenderloin the best.
Meatballs are one of those creations that can be used in many different applications. The flavor profile can be varied with different spices or sauces. When they are paired with rice or noodles, they make a good main course. Alternatively, they are perfect as an appetizer or even just a snack. You can also make them in bulk and freeze them for use later. What’s not to love about something so versatile?