Tag: appetizers

Eggplant Dip

Eggplant Dip

Got a bumper crop of eggplants? This Eggplant Dip is an effortlessly delicious way to use them up! The eggplant gets broiled until the flesh is meltingly tender, with the slightly charred and smoky flavor you’d get from the grill. Without the whole standing outside read more



Have some kimchi laying around in the fridge that you need to use up? Try these Korean style dumplings, known as Mandu. They are stuffed with shrimp and kimchi, so they are packed with explosive flavor. And of course I serve them with a yummy read more

Pork Stir Fry

Pork Stir Fry

This Pork Stir Fry is the kind of simple dish that every Japanese home has a version of. Known in Japan as nira buta, the nira refers to garlic chives (also called Chinese chives), and the buta is the pork. This is a lightening fast recipe that works well with other dishes on the dinner table. It’s also something a parent might whip up after school to hold you over until dinner and it could even satisfy as an exceptional late night snack. Quick, easy, and delicious. Let’s get started!

Like many stir-fries, there is room for experimentation. Sometimes the chives are stir fried with bean sprouts or chicken and sometimes the egg is omitted. When meat is used, like I am here, it’s in a typically Asian way. The meat is more of a flavoring than the star of the show. The 8 ounces of pork here serves 4 as an appetizer, which is a far cry from the standard Western practice 0f 6-8 ounces of meat per person. So this is a pretty economical and healthy dish as well.

pork stir fry ingredients

Garlic Chives

Garlic chives are a totally different animal than the chives you are probably already familiar and should not be confused with the fine delicate French chives in the herb section of the grocery store. Those chives will not work in this stir fry. There are two main types of garlic chives you will find available here in the States. You can find both of them at an Asian grocery store in the produce section. The first type is flat and looks like a blade of grass. It is soft and tender, and used in Korean dishes like kimchi, in Chinese potstickers, and in Japanese stir fries. You can use that garlic chive here, but it cooks in seconds so you’ll want to cook it for less time. But the type of chive we’re using today is the flowering type. It has a more sturdy look with a thicker stem capped with a bud. The buds are typically closed tightly. When purchasing garlic chives, look for a bunch that is green and fresh. Avoid any that are slimy, a faded color, or dried out.

Stir Fry Basics

Since stir fries come together so quickly, it’s important to have everything prepped and within reach before you start cooking. Otherwise you run the risk of your pork burning while you dash around the kitchen frantically trying to find the sesame oil. So prep the chives, cut the meat, scramble the eggs, and lay it all out with the sauce ingredients by your stovetop.

Just a note, the ends of the flowering garlic chives are very fibrous. I always take a generous 1 1/2 inches off of the bottom so that the I don’t end up with a mouthful of tough bits. And the buds are completely edible so there’s no need to cut them off. However, if you’re using regular garlic chives, which are more tender, a little trim off the bottom will do it.

chives pork stir fry

Heat the pan for several minutes before adding the oil. You want that pan very very hot. Then add the oil right before the other ingredients so it doesn’t smoke. The key to successful stir frying without a wok and incredibly high heat is to let the protein cook undisturbed with plenty of space before continuing with the stir fry. This technique gets a good sear on the meat and prevents liquid from pooling in the pan, which would interfere with your stir fry.

I like a softly cooked egg so I turn off the heat when I add it in. The residual heat in the pan will continue to cook the egg. What you end up with is similar to a carbonara where the egg turns into a thick sauce. Of course, you can cook the egg how you like; that’s the beauty of cooking for yourself! Next, transfer the stir fry to a plate and you’re all set.

You can serve this Pork Stir Fry with Java Rice to make it a complete meal. It’s also delicious served with:

Or you could just devour it to keep the hangries at bay, like we do in Japan. Try it this week and let me know what you think by rating and commenting on the recipe below, and don’t forget to tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!



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recipe card pork stir fry

Pork Stir Fry

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: small plates
  • Cuisine: Chinese


  • 8 ounces pork loin
  • 2 Tablespoons neutral oil
  • 1 bunch flowering garlic chives, about 11 ounces
  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil


  1. Trim the bottom inch of the garlic chives and discard. Cut the chives into 2 inch pieces and set aside.
  2. Cut the pork in half lengthwise and then into thin strips. Set aside.
  3. Crack the eggs and lightly scramble with a fork. Set aside.
  4. Heat a large 12” skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil and tilt the skillet and swirl the pan to coat with oil. Add the pork, let it cook for 1 minute undisturbed and then stir fry for 1 minute.
  5. Add the garlic chives and continue cooking for 1 minute, stir frying to move the ingredients around the pan.
  6. Add the oyster sauce, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. 
  7. Add the scrambled egg, stir, and turn the heat off the pan. Gently stir a couple times until the egg is cooked to your liking. I typically only cook it halfway through so it’s more like a thickened sauce.
  8. Transfer the pork stir fry to a plate and serve immediately.

Keywords: nira buta, stir fry, pork, garlic chives, chinese chives,

Smoked Wings

Smoked Wings

Do we need an excuse to devour a platter of chicken wings? If you do, we have the double whammy of the Winter Olympics and the Super Bowl. Both of which just scream out for a pile of crispy, glazed wings. And these Smoked Wings read more

Coconut Lime Ceviche

Coconut Lime Ceviche

When I need something quick but fancy for a party, I reach for ceviche. It’s bright, fresh flavors are always a hit, and this Coconut Lime Ceviche brings a fun Asian twist.  Prep takes only 15 minutes, there’s no cooking time involved, and you can read more

Pearl Balls

Pearl Balls

Pearl Balls are a Chinese party tradition. Traditionally served during the Lunar New Year, these jeweled little meatballs are almost as fun to make as they are to eat!  This is a great recipe to involve little hands in; they love rolling the meatballs in the rice. There are all kinds of variations, from vegan to seafood, but this one with a flavorful pork stuffing is my favorite.

pearl balls ingredients

Pearl Balls are quick to make, but the rice needs to soak overnight so plan ahead. Sticky rice, also called sweet or glutinous rice is traditional for these, and their pearly shine is how this dish got its name. Sticky rice also makes a nice chewy contrast to the meaty and crunchy stuffing inside.

soak pearl balls

Then it’s time to make the filling.  As rice is something of a blank canvas, it’s important to have a highly seasoned and flavorful filling. I choose full fat pork for extra richness, and water chestnuts for a pleasant crunch. (I use the canned ones for convenience.) Scallions, Shaoxing wine, and oyster sauce fill this with extra umami goodness.

chestnuts pearl balls

meat pearl balls

This next part is a perfect way to involve kids in the kitchen!

roll pearl balls

Now it’s time to steam the pearl balls. You can use a double boiler, or a steam insert or basket. Just be sure to line it with cheesecloth or a kitchen towel so no bits fall through.

basket pearl balls

Steam the pearl balls for about 18-20 minutes. The rice should like translucent and shiny. Then it’s time to serve these little balls of delight! Pile them on a platter and dig in.

Pearl Balls are a fun and festive party treat and they should be served with equally festive recipes:

Try these for at your next holiday gathering and let me know what you think by commenting below, rating the recipe, and tagging us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!





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pearl balls recipe card

Pearl Balls

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes (plus soaking time)
  • Cook Time: 20 Minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: makes 24 rice balls 1x
  • Category: small plates
  • Cuisine: Chinese


  • 1 cup sweet glutinous rice
  • 1 pound ground pork (use one with a higher fat content)
  • 2 scallions minced
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 water chestnuts (I used canned)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Shaoxing wine
  • 2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper


  1. Soak the sweet rice overnight in a bowl of water. (Make sure you have triple the amount of water as the rice will expand as it soaks in the water). Drain and set aside.
  2. Peel the water chestnuts with a knife (if using fresh) and then chop them fine. Put the chestnuts in a bowl and add the ground pork, scallions, egg, garlic, shaoxing wine, oyster sauce, salt, and ground pepper.
  3. Aggressively mix to combine, slapping the meat around in the bowl until the texture changes and becomes kind of pasty and sticky.
  4. Use a 1 ½ Tablespoon scoop and portion out the filling. You will yield approximately 24 pieces.
  5. Then roll the meat balls gently on the rice, trying to get every part covered with the rice.
  6. Set up a double boiler or a steamer insert for your pearl balls. Lay a piece of cheesecloth, paper towel, or a dumpling cloth over the steamer insert so no bits can fall through the holes.
  7. Set the pearl balls on a piece of cheesecloth or dumpling cloth (as many as can comfortably fit without touching). 
  8. Bring the pot of water to a boil on high heat. When the water starts boiling, place the steamer insert on top of the boiling water and cover with a lid. Steam for 18-20 minutes until the pork is cooked through and the rice is translucent and shiny.
  9. Continue steaming pearl balls in the same way until they are all cooked. Serve immediately.


*Because the pearl balls take a while to cook, it is a good idea to cook a batch and get another batch going before serving. This way you have some hot and ready to eat while more are cooking. 

*Leftovers can be stored for several days in the fridge. Gently microwave for a couple of minutes with a damp paper towel on top.

Keywords: pearl balls, rice balls, holiday, pork,