Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Bola-bola (Philippine Meatballs)

I've eaten a lot of bola-bola in my day, but we have not tried making them ourselves for such a long time.

It must be because my godmother, Auntie B, happily fulfills our request for bola-bola. Mama would buy the meat (ground pork), and the meat returns in a foil pan already mixed in with goodies, like green onions, carrots, and our Auntie B's signature root vegetable, taro strips.

Bola, by the way, means "ball." Although there are all sorts of meat/fish/seafood balls, when we say "bola-bola", everyone knows that it refers to these pork meatballs.

no photo of Auntie B's bola-bola

A few months ago, when Boss #2 requested bola bola, we set about making them. I looked at Yaya's recipe and her bola-bola called for mixing ground pork with carrots and jicama. I bought jicama for this very purpose.

However, I made the rookie mistake of overprocessing the carrots and jicama in the food processor. When I tried to form the meat mixture into balls, they were too soft and wouldn't hold together. We ended up making an "omelette" with the ground pork bola-bola-wannabe mixture.

For this specific batch of bola-bola, I put carrots and sweet potatoes. TS likes to tell me to put water chestnuts in place of the jicama for crunch, but I didn't do that this time. I made sure I didn't overprocess these vegetables in the food processor; I kept them in small chunks. I mixed in some green onions, soy sauce, just a touch of sugar to balance out the soy sauce -- and they were ready to form and fry.

Wow, I knew the bola-bola mixture was a simple one, but looking at the recipe again, I am still a little surprised at how simple it is!

balls of fury!

Bola-bola draining on a steamer basket.

Bola-bola are usually eaten with some ketchup, so a sweet chili sauce will also do the trick. Needless to say, we eat them as ulam with our plain white rice.

Bola-bola are always popular in our household and they were gone in a jiffy. There's something about these browned pork balls that is irresistible to our family.

Bola-bola (Philippine Meatballs)

3 lbs ground pork
2 carrots, grated
2 sweet potatoes, grated
4 stalks green onions, chopped finely
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Form into balls (or whatever shape of whatever size you choose). Heat oil in a pan and shallow-fry the balls, turning as necessary to brown all sides. Remove from oil when done and drain on paper towels.

[eatingclub] vancouver Chinese food
[eatingclub] vancouver Philippine food

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  1. Huh! I kept wondering how you got them all crispy-looking and then got to the point where you fried them. I wouldn't have thought of that. Have you tried grilling or pan-frying them? Is it a textural difference?

  2. I'm liking these bola-bolas and I definitely like the idea of the crunch from jicama or water chestnuts.

  3. Looks so delicious. The word Bola means balls in Malay too although there is nothing I know that is like this in Malay cuisine. If anything, there is something like this that my mum used to make.

  4. Oh these sound so fantastic to me!

  5. the crunch would really make them amazing. Oh, so good.

  6. Good one. I like carrots and onions in a fine mince. Usually it's sweet and sour sauce, but sweet chili sauce is a marvelous choice :)

  7. Deep fried meatballs - I don't see how those could possibly be LESS than delicious! Also love the sweet potato in there...

  8. Wandering Chopsticks:
    Oh, we haven't tried grilling. I guess pan-frying would be similar, except one has to turn the meatballs. Actually, our mother used to just make patties out of them and pan-fried them. See where we get our "lack of industry" from? ;)

    Joan Nova:
    I'm still bitter that JS did not incorporate my water chestnuts suggestion. LOL.

    I think this is one of those home-cooking dishes, definitely.

    maybelle's mom:
    Thanks! =)

    We've always had just plain old ketchup with our bola-bola; no one's ever industrious enough to make a sweet & sour sauce!

    Choosy Beggar Tina:
    Haha, I didn't realize the deep-frying seemed to be the unusual part about the recipe until I saw the comments about it, hehe. =D


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