I have attempted to make thai beef meat balls for about 10 times now and failed almost everytime. Thai beef meat balls need to be stretchy and have a chewy texture when finished.

I have tried mince with no fat, mince with 10% fat, high quality mince with no fat, still cannot get the right finished texture like the one in this video: Thai Beef Meatball Recipe

So I was wondering, what does cornflour and baking power do to the mince? Why is it so necessary to have the mixed mince very cold before shaping it into a hot water?

I have followed exactly what the above video says and still cannot get it right.

  • What exactly is the problem? You say it isn't right, but how is it not right?
    – GdD
    Jun 6, 2017 at 8:47
  • Likely the absence of chewy texture though not explicitly asked. Two questions here: what the ingredients do and and why texture not attainable.
    – user110084
    Jun 6, 2017 at 11:59
  • Is it baking soda or baking powder?
    – user110084
    Jun 6, 2017 at 12:03
  • by not getting it right means I get the finished product with is meatballs but it is very soft and not firm and not chewy as what's shown in the video.
    – user222452
    Jun 7, 2017 at 3:24
  • 1
    10% fat means that 10% of pure fat has been added to the chunk of meat (with whatever intermuscular fat it had). It might be worth trying again using a chunk of meat and cutting it up, as shown in the video. (I'm also not sure if it's better to work with the meat when it's cold, or let it warm up some ... it's going to warm up as it's in the food processor)
    – Joe
    Jun 7, 2017 at 11:49

3 Answers 3


Baking soda or baking powder? Powder will produce gas bubbles.

Both baking soda (but not baking powder) and corn starch are prevalent in chinese cooking and its derivatives elsewhere in Asia. I am reasonably sure that they are used even in home cooking.

Corn starch is used as a binder and texturing agent in minced or finely chopped meat. I have also seen it used in home cooking on sliced meat in stir frying for texture, mainly to capture the meat juices and allow that to become a thin coating of sauce adhered to the meat.

Baking soda is used as a meat tenderiser, more often in commercial cooking and less so in home cooking from what I have seen. Again, this is used commonly in sliced as well as minced meat.

As for meat balls (and fish balls/fish cakes too), the bouncy/chewy texture comes from kneading a meat paste (just ground beef if not fine enough) and also the way they are formed, effectively by extrusion - a pinch of meat in the palm of your hand, form a fist and squeeze it out through gap between your curled index finger and thumb. These are always cooked immediately, I suspect for hygiene because of excessive handling.


Though I have never seen it used, I can see how double action baking powder could produce those little bubbles in the puffier fish balls that you sometimes observe. This would certainly justify keeping everything cold and a hot bath immediately after extrusion. Much if not all of the tenderising function of the soda inside baking powder would be lost however.

I do not know any more today. The only other idea is that some sausages have a very similar bouncy texture. Perhaps someone can chime in with that know how.

  • So what makes it firm, strachy and chewy? That's what I want to find out. Is it the cold, the time frame I have to process the meat, the corn flour or the baking soda? I have also tried to double the amount of corn flour as oppose to the video above and makes no different which I still get the soft, easy to pull apart type of texture when finished.
    – user222452
    Jun 7, 2017 at 3:25
  • 2
    It is the fineness of the mincing. You are aiming for a paste not just ground meat. Baking soda also helps to break down the meat. You do have to knead your paste.
    – user110084
    Jun 7, 2017 at 4:13
  • I have also tried to knead my paste by using food processor to blend it for about 10mins which is 8 mins longer that the lady in the video says. I have also checked my paste to see if it is really pasty and fine blend and still came out soft. I really don't understand why hence this post.
    – user222452
    Jun 7, 2017 at 5:20
  • 1
    I will need to either experiment a bit and ask around, out of knowledge and ideas right now. It was not even an issue the few times I played with it. I do know that the texture is not uniform and that bounciness is something people pick on among vendors. It is not that dissimilar to the texture of some sausages actually. Perhaps that might be a potential source. Try double action baking powder too and keep everything very cold till the hot step. Will have to defer to others right now.
    – user110084
    Jun 7, 2017 at 9:14

I read the key is to keep the meat cold and to put in the freezer to keep it that way then take it out before it freezes solid and you do this several times during the process right up to cooking.

  • I've also seen videos using a food processor or blender where they put ice cubes in, rather than just chilled water.
    – Joe
    Nov 1, 2018 at 19:10

Flour can be substituted for other flour of the same type (in this case flour of any starchy grain: wheat, corn, potato, etc). The same thing with starch (corn starch, potato starch, etc). Temperature controls what the fat does, and the texture of meatballs is the behavior of the fat. Movement: too much stirring in a too warm room, melts the fat and makes them dense. Be careful the temperatures of your meat more than anything else.

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