Tag: xmas

Daigaku Imo

Daigaku Imo

Sometimes you just want something fried. And maybe a little sweet too while you’re at it. Enter Japanese candied potatoes, known as Daigaku Imo.  These are flash fried to crispy perfection, and glazed with a sweet and tangy sauce. Daigaku Imo translates to College Potatoes. read more



Crema Catalana, flan, creme brulee… there’s something about a creamy custard topped with caramel that is universally irresistible. Purin is Japan’s take on the classic pairing and is incredibly popular. You can even find Purin for sale in convenience stores. It’s one of my favorite read more

Vietnamese Mussels

Vietnamese Mussels

I’m on a mission to get people to make and enjoy mussels at home. Mussels are sustainable, economical, and an effortless way to add drama and sophistication to any gathering. There’s no reason to save these for a special restaurant meal. These Vietnamese Mussels are part of my game plan; once you see how easy they are to prepare you’ll be making them over and over to impress guests.

mussels ingredients

What Makes these Mussels Vietnamese?

While at first glance these mussels may seem like something you would order in a French bistro- a pile of gleaming mollusks in a wine based broth, these beauties take a tour through Vietnam. Lemongrass, fish sauce, and a shower of fresh herbs, the trifecta of Vietnamese flavors, all make an appearance here. A garnish of crunchy fried shallots seal the deal.

Making Vietnamese Mussels

I start by soaking the mussels in a bowl of water for about 20 minutes. This helps them expel sand so they won’t be gritty. Then I thoroughly rinse them under running water. I also remove any long hair-life strands attached to the shell, known as the beard. Some may not have beards at all. Removing them is easy, just grab and pull.

Now it’s time to prep the aromatics-the lemongrass, garlic, chili, and onion.

mussels onion half

I use the flat side of the blade to roughly smash the garlic cloves.

garlic mussels

I love to use frozen, chopped lemongrass. It’s one of the most convenient of convenience products. It can be found in the freezer section of well stocked Asian stores. Pop it in the freezer and then just scoop out a tablespoon or two whenever you need it. If you are using fresh lemongrass, I show you how to prep it here. I like to put chopped chilis, garlic, and lemongrass in a small bowl so I have it handy when it’s time to add to the pot.

Now that everything is prepped and within reach, it’s time to cook.

wine mussels

Stir again and cook for a couple minutes more, until all of the mussels open. (Discard any that don’t.)  Taste the broth to see if it needs any more salt, it should be deeply flavorful.  Then stir in the butter for a little added richness, and top with the herbs-I like a mix, and the fried shallots.

recipe mussels vietnamese

You can serve these right from the pot, or pile them onto a platter, or portion them out for your guests. Make sure to include plenty of that glorious liquid!

Vietnamese Mussels are a perfect holiday party starter alongside a batch of Yuzu Margaritas! Make a batch and let me know what you think. Comment on the recipe or tag us @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!


clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
recipe mussels vietnamese

Vietnamese Mussels

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 5 (plus soaking time)
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


  • 2 lemongrass stalks or 2 Tablespoons chopped lemongrass
  • 2 Tablespoons neutral oil
  • ½ large yellow onion
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2.5 lbs mussels
  • 1 ½ cups crisp white wine (like sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio)
  • 23 bird’s-eye chili, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons cold butter cut into cubes
  • ½ cup (small handful) Thai basil leaves, cilantro, mint, or any combination roughly chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fried shallots (optional)
  • Lemon wedges for serving


  1. Put the mussels in a large colander and rinse under running water.
  2. Pull any pieces of beard (the long hair like strands attached to the shell) off and set aside to drain.
  3. Cut the onion into thin slices and set aside.
  4. Wash the lemongrass stalks.
  5. Smash them lightly with a wooden spoon or the side of your knife.
  6. Cut off the top half and discard. Then slice the stalks into ½ inch pieces. (You can also use frozen chopped lemongrass if you prefer.)
  7. Next smack the garlic cloves with the knife or spoon to smash them roughly.
  8. Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat for several minutes and add the oil, and onions.
  9. Cook for 3-5 minutes until slightly softened.
  10. Add the lemongrass, chiles, and garlic. Sauté briefly until fragrant, about 20 seconds.
  11. Add the mussels, fish sauce, ground black pepper, and wine.
  12. Stir the contents of the pot, cover with a lid, and steam until the mussels start to open, about 2-3 minutes. 
  13. Stir the clams again, cover with the lid, and continue cooking until all of the mussels pop open, about 2-3 minutes. (If you still have 1 or 2 mussels that have not opened after all of the rest are open, discard them). 
  14. Taste a little of the broth to measure saltiness and add a little salt as needed.
  15. Turn off the heat and add the butter, fried shallots, and the herbs. 
  16. Stir again. Transfer to a deep serving platter or just serve the Vietnamese Mussels out of the pot and serve immediately.

Keywords: mussels, vietnamese, lemongrass, fish sauce, party food, appetizers, holiday, starters

Red Bean Rice

Red Bean Rice

Red Bean Rice is a special occasion dish in Japan. Graduations, new babies, weddings, holidays…Red Bean Rice makes its welcomed appearance. Savory and comforting, the rice takes on a red hue from the azuki beans that symbolizes good luck and prosperity. It’s an usual dish read more

Longevity Noodles

Longevity Noodles

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Lunar New Year, one of the most important holidays in China, starts today. But don’t worry, celebrations typically last for weeks. So you have plenty of time to throw your own Lunar New Year dinner party. And no such menu would 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!





clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
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,