Pork Meatballs and Chinese Cabbage Soup

Winter is the best season for enjoying Chinese cabbage in Japan. The sweet cabbage, cooked together with pork, is sure to be a treat for your taste buds!

Pork Meatballs and Chinese Cabbage Soup
Photographed by Miyuki Fukuo

Recipe by
Masami Kobayashi







Calorie count is per serving.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 400 g Chinese cabbage
  • 200 g ground pork
  • [A]

    • 1/2 egg (beaten)
    • 1 tbsp water
    • 1/2 tbsp potato starch
    • 1 tsp ginger (grated)
    • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • [B]

    • 200 ml dashi
    • 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • 1 tbsp sake
  • [Potato starch thickener]

    • 2-3 tsp potato starch
    • 2-3 tsp water
  • Japanese mustard, as needed
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil



Divide the Chinese cabbage into stalks and leaves. Lay the blade at an angle and cut the stalks into bite-size pieces. Cut the leaves into easy-to-eat pieces.


Add the ground pork and [A] to a bowl. Knead together and divide into 6 equal parts. Instead of a conventional meatball shape, shape the pork mixture into round patties to make them easier to cook through.


Add 2 tbsp of sesame oil to a large frying pan and place over medium-high heat. Place the patties in the pan and brown both sides for a total of approx. 3 minutes. Remove the patties. Drain most of the oil from the pan, leaving about 1 tbsp.


Browning the patties produces a mouth-watering aroma.


Add the Chinese cabbage stalks to the pan and stir-fry over medium-high heat to coat in oil. Add the leaves and do the same.


Thoroughly coat the Chinese cabbage with the oil infused with umami from the meat patties.


Add [B] to the pan. Return the meat patties and bring the liquid to a gentle boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for approx. 15 minutes, stirring once, until the Chinese cabbage is tender. Add the [Potato starch thickener], adjusting the amount to achieve the desired thickness. Divide into two bowls and serve with Japanese mustard. Mix the mustard into the soup to eat.


The simmered Chinese cabbage is tender and infused with umami from the meat patties.