5 from 4 votes
Japanese Pork meatballs are deep fried meatballs coated in flavoursome sauce. By just changing the sauce, you will get quite different meatball dishes – one with sweet and sour sauces, one with weet soy sauce like teriyaki sauce. Both are really tasty.
Japanese Pork Meatballs (Niku-dango) with Two Sauces
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

Pork meatballs are deep fried, then coated in flavoursome sauce. By just changing the sauce, you will get quite different meatball dishes – one with sweet and sour sauce, one with sweet soy sauce like teriyaki sauce. Both are really tasty.

Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Japanese
Serves: 3 -4
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients
Meatballs
  • 500 g (17.6oz) pork mince (ground pork)
  • 1 onion, very finely diced
  • 2.5 cm (1”) cube ginger, very finely chopped or grated
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp cornflour/corn starch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Oil to deep fry
Sweet and Sour Sauce (Amazu-an) (note 1)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour/corn starch mixed in 3 tbsp water
Teriyaki Sauce Flavour (note 1)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp Japanese dashi stock
  • 1 tbsp cornflour/corn starch mixed in 2 tbsp water
Serving
  • Shallots (scallions), white part only, finely julienned (note 2)
  • A few lettuce leaves
  • A couple of coriander or parsley sprigs
Instructions
Making Meatballs
  1. Add all the Pork Meatballs ingredients excluding oil in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Take 1 tablespoon heap of the meat mixture and place the meat on a cutting board or a large baking pan.
  3. Repeat step 2 and use up all the meat mixture. I ended up with 24 meatballs, about 3.5cm (1⅜”) in diameter.

  4. Wet your hands and roll each meatball to a near perfect ball. You will need to wet your hands from time to time to avoid the meat sticking to your hands.

  5. Heat oil in a deep frypan or a pot to 170-180C (338-356F). The depth of oil should be more than the diameter of the meatball. (note 3)

  6. Gently drop each meatball into the oil. Do not overcrowd the oil. I used a 18cm (7”) pot and fried 6 at a time.

  7. Fry for about 3-4 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. (note 4) Transfer to a tray lined with a couple of kitchen paper towels.

Making Sauce (same method for two different sauces)
  1. Add the sauce ingredients, excluding cornflour with water, in a small saucepan and heat over medium high heat.

  2. When it starts boiling, reduce heat to low and add corn flour with water to the sauce. Mix well until the sauce is thickened. Turn the heat off.

Serving
  1. To serve with teriyaki flavour sauce, place the meatballs on a serving plate/bowl. Pour the sauce over the meatballs, then place julienned shallots on top.

  2. To serve with sweet and sour sauce, place lettuce leaves on one side of the serving plate, place meatballs, then pour the sauce. Place the coriander or parsley sprigs on the side.

Recipe Notes

1. The quantity of each sauce is for half of the meatballs made in the recipe as I presented them in two different sauces. If you are making the same amount of meatballs with one sauce, you would need to double the quantity of the sauce.

2. To make julienned shallots curly, leave them in cold water for 10-15 minutes. If you julienne diagonally, it curls more.

3. To check the temperature of the oil without a thermometer, use one of the following. 

a. Drop small bits of meat into the oil. The bits will sink half way and then come up with small bubbles around them.

b. Stick a pair of bamboo chopsticks into the oil. Bubbles appear around the chopsticks and come up constantly. 

It is important to have sufficient depth of oil to deep fry. If the oil is too shallow, the meatballs will stick to the bottom of the pot/pan. If you use a small pot or a fry pan, you can minimise the amount of oil to fry. You would need to fry meatballs in batches, though.

4. The time taken to cook meatballs depends on the size of the ball. When the meat is cooked through, you will feel the meatball is very light when you pick it up.

5. Fried meatballs can be frozen. Ensure that meatballs are placed without touching each other. Once they are frozen, you can put them in a bag.