A New Year Celebration Full of Food And a Pearl Ball Recipe!

This past Saturday, my friends and I celebrated the Lunar New Year, and by celebrated, I mean we ate… and ate… and ate for 7 hours straight!  I’m not even kidding here, friends.  See below for evidence!

Course 1: Cold Dish/Appetizer

We began around 12:00-12:30PM with peanut sesame noodles, tofu, mushroom, turkey pearl balls, chicken and more!

Course 2: Hot Dish/Entree

Then moved on to beef stew, pork ribs, and duck tacos, YUM!!

And let’s not forget about drinks in fun colored cups!

After those two courses, we decided to take a break and play with baby Audrey!  But first, here’s me with the beautiful host and mommy, Lai! πŸ™‚

Umm… isn’t her monkey outfit SO darling?  It even has a finger puppet monkey in the pocket.  This outfit was given to her by Aunt Sandy and Uncle Marvin! πŸ˜‰

I love the perspective of this picture. πŸ™‚ Linking it up to Sweet Shot Tuesdays.

Sweet Shot Day

Then we all took turns juggling different objects, trying to make Audrey laugh.

I think these funny guys won the game with bears on their head.  Yes, these bears were parting gifts, haha!

Course 3: Dessert

And finally, many hours later, we ended the evening with almond tofu, cheesecake bars…

and traditional Chinese nian gao (or sticky rice cakes) which are commonly eaten to celebrate the New Year!

And finally I just wanted to share a recipe for the Pearl Balls I made for the party, these little bites are a perfect appetizer!  Juicy and flavorful, they are pretty much similar to dumplings, except rolled in rice instead of wrapped in dumpling wrappers!

Pearl Balls (ZhenZhu Qiu)

recipe adapted from Asian Dumpling Tips


¾ cup sticky (sweet) rice, short-grain or long-grain variety
½ teaspoon plus generous ¼ teaspoon salt
1 pound ground turkey
11/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoons finely diced water chestnut
5 or 6 shitake mushrooms, diced
2 scallions (white and green parts), minced
1 pinch of white pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon light (regular) soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon canola or peanut oil
1 large egg


1. Put the rice in a bowl and add water to cover by 1 inch. Let stand for at least 2 hours (or even overnight) at room temperature.

2. Drain the rice in a mesh strainer, shaking the strainer to expel excess water. Let aside to dry while you prepare the pork mixture. Drier grains adhere to the meat mixture better.

3. In a small bowl cover the mushrooms with 1/2 cup of warm water and let them soak for 30 minutes. Discard the water (or save for your stock pot). Cut away stems and chop the caps finely.

4. Combine the turkey, ginger, water chestnut, mushroom and scallion in a bowl. Stir and mash with a fork to combine well.

5. In a small bowl, stir together the generous 1/2 teaspoon salt, white pepper, sugar, cornstarch, rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, and canola oil. Add the egg and beat to combine well. Pour over the meat mixture and stir vigorously to create soft, sticky mass.

6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use two teaspoons to scoop up a generous tablespoon of the pork, then pass the pork back and forth between the spoons to form a neat ball about 1 inch in diameter. Deposit it on the prepared baking sheet before repeating. Freeze the baking sheet for 10 minutes to firm up the meatballs.

7. Meanwhile, line steamer trays with parchment paper and set aside. Get the water boiling for steaming and lower the heat to keep it hot and ready.

8. For good measure, shake the strainer again to rid excess water. If the rice glistens with moisture, blot it with paper towels. Transfer to a bowl and toss with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Put about 1/3 of the rice on a plate.

9. Use your hands to pick up one of the balls of turkey, roll it between your hands to smooth any rough edges, then roll it in the rice. Aim to coat the surface with a single layer of rice. Place on the prepared steamer tray. Repeat with the remaining balls, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart. Overflow balls can be put on parchment paper lined baking sheets.

10. Steam the dumplings over boiling water for about 20 minutes, until the rice is translucent and the turkey is done. Detach the trays and place each on a platter. As the pearl balls cool, they take on a pink cast from the pork below the rice.

Serve immediately with soy sauce and hot chile garlic sauce. Refrigerate leftover dumplings, return them to room temperature, and steam them for about 5 minutes to reheat.

Happy Tuesday!


  1. February 7, 2011 / 11:13 pm

    Oh, goodness, those pearl balls look amazingggg. And THAT BABY IN THE HAT. Also amazing. <3

  2. February 7, 2011 / 11:14 pm

    Aw.. baby Audrey is so cute! I love that monkey outfit.. adorable! And the food.. as good as everything looks, I think I’d head on over to the sticky rice first thing. I miss that! Yum, drizzled with maple syrup.. Happy New Year Sandy, looks like you were surrounded by good friends, family and food!

  3. February 7, 2011 / 11:15 pm

    All that yummy food! Can I join you for next year’s Lunar New Year celebration? πŸ˜‰

  4. February 7, 2011 / 11:16 pm

    So much food and so much fun! Everything looks great and that baby is darling! Love the monkey outfit! Lol, so cute!!!

  5. February 7, 2011 / 11:20 pm

    I love love LOVE bbq duck wraps!! Yummy! Looks like you had a great time and filled your bellies well!

  6. February 7, 2011 / 11:21 pm

    Oh man duck tacos, I want some right now!! & the pearl balls and the sticky rice and the beef stew and I think you know what I mean. What a fun gathering!
    I wish I had some Asian friends around to celebrate with LOL, we just had a bowl of rice cake soup each. πŸ™‚

  7. February 7, 2011 / 11:26 pm

    AH all the food looks amazing! It looks like you had a wonderful fun time!

  8. February 7, 2011 / 11:51 pm

    Looks like such a fun time, everything looks delicious! And such a sweet baby– I’m dying over that little monkey outfit!


  9. February 7, 2011 / 11:53 pm

    That looks amazing!! That meat…..

    P.S. I’m doing a fun giveaway, so if you get a chance pop over and take a look.

    The Cheeky Cafe

  10. February 8, 2011 / 12:43 am

    Oh yum! What a fun and delicious party. The photos turned out awesome.

  11. February 8, 2011 / 1:00 am

    Currently dying from the cuteness overload with her monkey outfit and parting gifts as well as hunger from the pearl rice ball recipe. :Q

  12. February 8, 2011 / 1:29 am

    Happy New Year Sandy πŸ™‚ the best part of any holiday is the food! num.

  13. jennifer young
    February 8, 2011 / 2:03 am

    ahhh! i’m insanely craving asian/chinese food! such a fun celebration sandy!!!

  14. February 8, 2011 / 6:10 am

    Oh, I just LOVE Chinese new year! When I was younger, my entire mom’s side of the family (she has 9 siblings) would go to my grandpa’s house for an all-day-eating-event, too! My favorite thing to eat was always the nian gao! YUM!!

  15. February 8, 2011 / 6:29 am

    What an awesome what to spend the day! I couldn’t think of anything better….good food and great accompany! Everyday should be like this πŸ™‚

  16. February 8, 2011 / 7:17 am

    yummy!! looks soo good

  17. February 8, 2011 / 7:48 am

    OMG – you are so clever – this food looks A-mazing! So yummy!

    Happy new year lovely xo

  18. February 8, 2011 / 7:53 am

    There’s nothing I love more than food that’s really interesting and different. I used to be the most boring foodie but now I just want to try it all — and you can bet this recipe is going on my list!

  19. February 8, 2011 / 8:28 am

    ok im hungry now. πŸ™‚
    and that baby’s monkey outfit is uuuuh-dorable!!!

  20. February 8, 2011 / 8:31 am

    Thanks for leaving a sweet comment…
    Nice to have your voice:)

    You have a very gorgeous blog.
    Have a great day.

  21. February 8, 2011 / 8:42 am

    omgoodness look at all the yummy food!!! im drooling!! looks like u had a good weekend, you prob already know my weekend bc of my email mistake lol

  22. February 8, 2011 / 8:46 am

    Well, now I am hungry for sure! Looks like a great gathering!

  23. February 8, 2011 / 9:24 am

    thank you for the recipe! all of the food looks SO SO good!! and that baby with the monkey hat! too cute πŸ™‚ xoxo jcd

  24. February 8, 2011 / 9:30 am

    YUM! You’re making me very hungry!

  25. February 8, 2011 / 9:44 am

    Amazingly yummy looking food! So glad you had a great time celebrating Chinese New Year with good friends!

  26. ζ₯ζ₯Lai
    February 8, 2011 / 9:55 am

    Sandy! I’m glad you all had fun! Thanks for taking pictures for Audrey and thanks for the red envelope! You are her favorite Auntie!

  27. February 8, 2011 / 10:09 am

    Oh my gosh, is that hoisin sauce? Everything looks so, so delicious! My family back home went for dim sum, and my dad texted me a picture of all of the food. I’ve never been so jealous.

  28. February 8, 2011 / 10:30 am

    oh, and i meant to post that comment about the Chinese New Year food on this post instead of Monday’s. lol. so much good food!

  29. February 8, 2011 / 10:53 am

    Ohhh it looks like so much fun. The little one is adorable!
    Thanks for sharing all these yummy pics!!

  30. February 8, 2011 / 10:59 am

    Oh my word! That looks like SO much fun. Everything looks absolutely delish! β™₯


  31. February 8, 2011 / 11:27 am

    All that food looks awesome but the baby takes the cake, what a cutie. I could just squeal at that hats cutness.

  32. February 8, 2011 / 11:31 am

    yum!! and i love that little cutie’s monkey hat and finger puppet. so adorable!

  33. February 8, 2011 / 12:44 pm

    Baby Audrey is sooo adorable & that money in her pocket hehe! I love that name!

    Oh & All the food looks amazing!!

  34. February 8, 2011 / 1:29 pm

    wow – everything looks SO good. It’s 11:30 right now and my mouth is literally watering…

  35. February 8, 2011 / 2:33 pm

    YUM! The food looks delish! Happy New Year πŸ™‚

    And that little girl (and outfit, of course;)…adorable!

  36. February 8, 2011 / 3:28 pm

    what a lavish celebration! all the food looks YUM. and thanks for sharing the zhen zhu qiu recipe. looks goooood and will try it out one day!

  37. February 8, 2011 / 5:27 pm

    Looks like a lot of fun! I love the baby’s hat–too cute!

  38. February 8, 2011 / 5:54 pm

    Note to self: visit Sandy’s blog on a FULL stomach πŸ™‚

    The food looks to die for (especially the duck tacos!). And Audrey is such a cutie!!

  39. February 8, 2011 / 7:14 pm

    That looks like so much fun!
    And Audrey’s outfit is adorable!

  40. February 8, 2011 / 7:27 pm

    oh my goodness what a feast of yummies!!! i’m drooling. baby audrey is darling in that monkey outfit!

  41. February 8, 2011 / 8:03 pm

    holy moley!!!!! Y’all seriously had good eats. I swear Asians do it best πŸ˜‰ Happy Chinese New Year to you and thank you from the bottom of my heart for the well wishes today. I’m super scared, but hoping it all works out with only the most fabulous products for your peepers πŸ˜‰

  42. February 8, 2011 / 8:12 pm

    ooooh YUM. Love the food fest that is Chinese New Year! Hope you’re having a great week, Sandy! πŸ˜€

  43. February 8, 2011 / 8:45 pm

    that seriously sounds like such a perfect day – hanging out with friends eating! It’s so funny because while I was having dim sum with my family this past weekend to celebrate the new year, my mom was telling me about her pearl ball recipe. She said she used to make them all the time – and I don’t remember that at all.

  44. February 9, 2011 / 1:54 am

    yummmm!!! so wish i could cook like you. =)

  45. February 9, 2011 / 3:35 am

    ohhhhh yummmmy… I’m going to have to try those when I get back to Korea!

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