Adding black fungus and the dried shrimps to the pork add such lovely flavor to sweet sour meatballs. And, instead of breadcrumbs and egg to bind the ingredients together, I used a mixture of flour, corn starch and water. Unbelievable how much better the texture of the meatballs turned out! Light and bouncy, the meatballs left none of that bread-y sensation in the mouth.
In a bowl, mix together the ground pork, chopped shallots, wood ears, shiitake, dried shrimps, carrot, garlic, ginger, a teaspoon of salt, a quarter teaspoon of pepper, the five-spice powder, oyster sauce and sesame seed oil.
In a small bowl, mix the flour and starch with two tablespoons of water until smooth. Pour into the ground pork and mix well.
Make the sweet sour sauce
Dump the sugar into a thick-bottomed pan.
Pour in the rice vinegar and rice wine.
Boil over high heat, uncovered, until the sugar dissolves.
Add the rest of the ingredients.
Lower the heat to medium and continue boiling, uncovered and without stirring (stirring causes crystallization, for some reason), until the mixture is almost syrupy. Ten to twelve minutes. DO NOT wait for it to turn too thick as the sauce will thicken some more as it cools.
Fry the meatballs
Form the ground pork mixture into two-inch balls.
Heat enough cooking oil in a wok or frying pan to reach a depth of at least two inches.
Over medium-high heat, fry the meatballs in the hot oil until nicely browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Scoop out and set aside.
Pour off the cooking oil leaving only about two tablespoonfuls.
Reheat the oil. Stir fry the onion, carrot, bell pepper and celery with a little salt and pepper for a minute or two.
Add the meatballs to the vegetables. Pour in the sweet and sour sauce. Cook until the sauce is bubbly and the meatballs are glazed.
Updated from a recipe originally published in 3/31/2017