Photo: Leigh Beisch; Styling: Dan Becker Photo by: Photo: Leigh Beisch; Styling: Dan Becker

Spicy Rice Balls

Often known as “porcupine balls,� these dumplings aren't common on dim sum carts, but their intense flavor and easy preparation made them a hit in our test kitchen. Prep and Cook Time: 40 minutes, plus 2 hours of soaking time for rice.

Sunset APRIL 2008

  • Yield: Makes about 32 dumplings


  • 1/2 cup short-grain, sweet, or sticky rice
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 5 green onions, finely chopped
  • One 1-in. piece ginger, peeled and finely shredded (about 1 tbsp.)
  • 1 bird's eye or serrano chile, seeded and minced


1. In a medium bowl, soak rice in 2 cups water for 2 hours. Drain; put on a plate.

2. In a medium bowl, combine pork, egg, soy sauce, sugar, green onions, ginger, and chile. Cover and chill until rice is ready.

3. Divide pork mixture into 32 pieces. Roll into balls, then roll balls in rice. Put balls in parchment-lined steamers (see “How to Steam Dim Sum,� below). Cook until rice is tender and pork is cooked, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

How to Steam Dim Sum: Measure your steamer basket and choose a pot with a diameter at least 2 in. wider. To keep dumplings from sticking, cut a circle of parchment paper 1 in. smaller in diameter than the basket (so steam can flow up around the edges) and fit it in. Pour enough water into pot to come 1 in. up side and bring to a boil over high heat. Fill basket with dim sum first, then set it in the pot. Cover and cook, adding hot water as needed.

Note: Nutritional analysis is per ball.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 29
  • Calories from fat: 38%
  • Protein: 1.7g
  • Fat: 1.2g
  • Saturated fat: 0.4g
  • Carbohydrate: 2.7g
  • Fiber: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 70mg
  • Cholesterol: 11mg

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Spicy Rice Balls recipe