Pork Snow Balls, Time for One Pot Japanese Clay Cooking, Shiro-Mushi Dango from 'Donabe'

Time for one pot cooking the Japanese way with Donabe, Classic and Modern Japanese Clay Pot Cooking (Ten Speed Press, October 2015) by Kyle Connoughton and Naoko Moore

Pork Snow Balls Shiro-mushi Dango

Serves 6 to 8 as part of a multicourse meal

Equipment: 1 large (3-quart/3 l) donabe steamer

These heart dumplings look like shiny snowballs, and they make me feel festive every time I make them. Pork meatballs are covered in sweet rice and steamed until the rice is perfectly sticky and the meat is fluffy. I like it with a tiny dab of yuzu-kosho for accent. Or you can serve them the more classic way, with soy sauce mixed with karashi (Japanese mustard) or ponzu. – Naoko

1 rice cup (3/4 cup/180 ml) sweet rice, rinsed

1 tablespoon sake

1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1 pound (450 g) ground pork

1 large egg

3 medium-size dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated, trimmed, and diced small

1/4 cup (60 ml) finely minced yellow or sweet onion

1 small clove garlic, finely grated

1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger

2 1/2 tablespoons katakuriko (potato starch)

2 tablespoons sake

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Yuzu-kosho, for serving

Donabe_Pork Snow Balls

In a medium bowl, soak the sweet rice with enough water to cover the rice completely for 2 hours. Drain well and transfer it back to the bowl. Add the sake and salt and mix thoroughly.

To make the pork meatballs: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Knead by hand until the mixture is shiny and smooth. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Divide the pork mixture into 16 portions and shape them into balls (about 1 1/2 inches/3.5 cm in diameter) by hand. Dip each ball into the sweet rice and, using your hands, coat it completely with rice. Press down lightly on the rice so that it sticks.

Prepare the donabe according to the basic steaming instructions below, lining the steam grate with one of the suggested liners. Arrange the dumplings on the lining. Cover and steam over upper medium-high heat for about 20 minutes, or until the meat and rice are cooked through. Serve with yuzu-kosho at the table.

Basic Steaming

Fill about 70 percent of the donabe body with water.

Set the steam grate in place and cover with the lid. Bring to a boil over medium-high to high heat.

3. Once the donabe steamer is ready, simply place the ingredients either directly atop the grate or on a plate or a bed of napa cabbage, green leaf lettuce, green cabbage, or bean sprouts. (This will help prevent the ingredients from sticking to the grate without clogging the holes, thus easier cleaning after use, and you can eat the bed, too!) Cover and cook until done. Other options for holding the ingredients are a bowl, a sheet of parchment paper punched with holes, or a mat of bamboo leaves.

Rolling with it for Tokyo Thursdays #308

(*Reprinted with permission from Donabe, by Kyle Connoughton and Naoko Moore, copyright 2015, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photography copyright 2015 by Eric Wolfinger)

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