How to Make Chinese Steamed Beef Balls (Ngao Yuk)

Three Steamed meat balls

IMAGEMORE Co., Ltd. / Getty Images

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 8 mins
Total: 28 mins
Servings: 16 to 20 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
92 Calories
7g Fat
1g Carbs
6g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16 to 20
Amount per serving
Calories 92
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 20mg 7%
Sodium 72mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 1mg 4%
Calcium 9mg 1%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 92mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Fresh watercress absorbs the flavor of the seasoned beef balls during steaming in this recipe from the cookbook Have Some Dim Sum, by Evelyn Chau. Learn how to make dim sum steamed beef balls.


  • 1 pinch baking soda

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 1/3 teaspoon dried citrus peel

  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch

  • 1/2 cup cold water

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

  • 1 pinch white pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 4 drops sesame oil

  • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce

  • 1 bunch watercress

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Add baking soda to beef and mix well.

  3. Let stand for 3 or 4 hours in the fridge.

  4. Soak citrus peel in warm water until soft. Drain and mince finely. 

  5. Pick up beef in hand and form into a large ball.

  6. Then throw the beef with some force into a large bowl.

  7. Repeat 10 to 15 times. This makes the beef less crumbly when cooked. An alternative is to add a beaten egg to the mixture together with the seasonings.

  8. Dissolve cornstarch in cold water. Stir well and add to beef.

  9. Add minced citrus peel, oil, white pepper, salt, chicken bouillon, sugar, sesame oil, and optional egg, leaving oyster sauce until last.

  10. Form beef balls of about 2 tablespoons of beef in your cupped hands and roll lightly.

  11. Line a large dish with lots of watercress. Put beef balls on top. If you're using small dishes, the beef can be steamed in batches.

  12. Steam on high heat for 8 minutes after the water has come to a boil.

  13. Serve with a Worcestershire/soy sauce mixture.


  • Dried citrus peel or dried tangerine peel can be purchased in Chinese/Asian markets.
  • If you use the fresh citrus peel, the orange flavor will be stronger.

Recipe Variations

  • Line bamboo steamer with snow pea sprouts when in season.
  • Take a soya sheet and drag through warm water for a few seconds to soften. Line plate with this and steam as usual.
  • Some restaurants put a few tablespoons of uncooked green peas around the beef.