Chinese Meatballs Full of Filial Piety

September 13, 2010 4:39 pm Last Updated: October 1, 2015 7:04 pm

Nutritious and delicious Gung Wang meatballs are meaty and full of filial piety. (Tsai Shya/ The Epoch Times)
Nutritious and delicious Gung Wang meatballs are meaty and full of filial piety. (Tsai Shya/ The Epoch Times)
Gung Wang is a kind of Chinese meatball made from pork. A mallet is used to tenderize pork into patties, which are then shaped into small round balls. After boiling the balls, they are soft yet firm to the bite and delicious. They are especially suitable for the elderly and children. Gung Wang originally came from Fuzhou, a city in Fujian Province in southern China but later spread to Taiwan and took root in Hsinchu, a northwestern county of Taiwan, where Gung Wang has evolved into a local specialty. It is said that the creation of Chinese meatballs comes from a son’s filial love for his mother.

In the late Ming Dynasty (around early 17th century) in Fuzhou, there was a man named Meng Bo who lived in a small village near the sea. He was morally well rounded, smart, and filial since childhood. Meng Bo’s filial love for his mother was highly regarded by his neighbors. One day, his aging mother discovered that she was not able to eat meat anymore because her teeth had weakened with age. It was rather disappointing to her because she had been quite the meat lover.

Meng Bo wanted to help his elderly mother eat delicious pork again. He sat through numerous sleepless nights pondering ways he could prepare pork that she could eat. Until one day, he saw his neighbors pounding glutinous rice into mochi, a kind of sticky rice cake. He was hit with inspiration. He then went into his kitchen and proceeded to pound pork just like his neighbors did with glutinous rice to make mochi. After softening the pork, Meng Bo carefully shaped the pork patties into small round balls so his mother could eat the pieces easily.

After boiling the small meatballs, they radiated a delicious meaty aroma. Meng Bo happily served the meatballs to his mother. She was very pleased—not only were the meatballs tasty, but they were easy to eat. Meng Bo was delighted to see his mother eating the pork she longed for. Meng Bo's story of filial love and his recipe quickly spread throughout the city of Fuzhou. All of the residents of Fuzhou came to make his delicious meatballs, full of filial piety.

Traditional Gung Wang meatballs require using a wooden stick to pound pork into patties and then shaping the patties into small round meatballs. The pounding movement is called “gung,” and “wang” is the word for small ball in the Minnan dialect (the dialect spoken in the southern area of the Fujian Province), hence the name Gung Wang, or Chinese pork meatball.

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