Rice-coconut balls with shrimp

March 3, 2011  •  Category: ,


At first look, the cuisine of the Near East and the Far East have nothing in common; and yet, there are parallels. In Lebanese cuisine, rice flour is used for sweetmeats and puddings but never in savory dishes. As a result, I was very intrigued by Chef Bruno Viala’s interpretation of rice balls. He stuffed them with a shrimp mince, flavored with cilantro, citrus rind, garlic and fresh ginger.

The rice balls are boiled for a few minutes then coated in shredded coconut. The texture  and taste of the rice balls is delicate and somewhat bland and the shrimp is flavorful but not overpowering. Perfect for an appetizer.


  • 7 ounces rice flour (200 g.)
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1 1/2 cups (or more) of shredded unsweetened grated coconut
  • For the shrimp stuffing: 1/3 pound of peeled and minced shrimp
  • 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro leaves
  • Grated rind of an orange or lemon or lime
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons of sesame oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, mashed in a mortar with a dash of salt


  1. Place a mound of rice on a work surface; place the coconut milk and water nearby. Mix the coconut milk with the water. Form a crater in the rice and start adding the coconut water gradually, stirring all the while with a wooden spoon forming a paste. Stop adding water when the paste is firm and not sticky and holds its shape well.
  2. Place the minced shrimp, chopped cilantro, grated orange, sesame oil and mashed garlic in a bowl. Using a cookie scoop, pinch off round balls of dough and flatten each ball in the palm of your hand; place a generous teaspoon of shrimp mince on the flattened ball and enclose the ball completely, rolling it between the palm of your hands.
  3. Bring a pot of water to a boil, lower the heat and drop a few rice balls at a time; let them simmer for 3 to 4 minutes until the balls are heavy and cooked. Remove and drain and coat in shredded coconut.
  4. When all the balls have been coated in coconut, garnish with slivers of cilantro leaves and freshly grated orange rind and serve.

Recipe based on Chef Bruno Viala’s Perles de coco et gambas, adapted


36 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Rosa says:

    I love that spring-like look. Those must be scrumptious.



  2. Priya says:

    Those rice balls looks very tempting,prefect appetizier..

  3. Peter says:

    This is a great twist on…coconut shrimp! Watch these vanish in minutes at your next party!

  4. Ameena says:

    These look divine my friend! I love rice, I love shrimp…great idea to combine them!

  5. oum mouncifrayan says:

    miammm, ça mets l’eau à la bouche…

  6. Krista says:

    That filling sounds fantastic – love the orange and cilantro. Mmm. 🙂

  7. doggybloggy says:

    wow this is like mochi but savory and with shrimp – how cool is this! I was just looking at tapioca flour, yucca flour and rice flour yesterday wondering what I could make …thanks.

  8. weirdcombos says:

    What a great savory snack. It is always fun to adventure out cooking with different flours. Rice, milllet, chana, soy or spelt you name it! Beautiful colors and I bet incredible flavors.

    * the Brazilian crab dish you mentioned on my a recent post of mine was it casquinha de siri? It’s made with crab meat, Parmesan, bread crumbs, spices, palm oil and coconut milk. The shells are stuffed with this mix and baked in the oven till tops are tanned. I should feature it sometime on wc maybe using these enormous dungeness crabs we find here in California lol

  9. Maria @ Scandifoodie says:

    I was thinking of mochi first but then I saw the savoury filling, how interesting and delicious too, I can imagine!

  10. Leilee says:

    Yum!!! I love anything with rice or rice flour. Can’t wait to try these.

  11. Sarah says:

    I love the concept of these! Your filling sounds delicious and I’m already imagining many other fun filling ideas for some of my vegetarian friends.

  12. tigerfish says:

    They look like desserts but they are savory! Interesting!

  13. MaryMoh says:

    We always have sweet version back home. We do have the savoury ones but a different way of doing it. Yours look very pretty and delicious.

  14. Nuts about food says:

    What a perfect combination of flavors and beautiful presentation. Great to make ahead of time and then drop in water right before serving them to your guests.

  15. Caffettiera says:

    It is so interesting to find parallels between far away kitchens. these look very delicate.

  16. domi says:

    Bonjour Joumana, ces perles de riz sont de vraies petits bijoux, très, très gourmands, bises et passe un bon week end.

  17. Tom @ Tall Clover says:

    Joumana, we’re cooking on the same wavelength. I’m making Inari today, fried tofu shells, stuffed with vinegar-infused rice. Then I stuff them with minced shrimp something that is not traditional (or likely acceptable to any self-respecting sushi chef).

    I’m also a big fan of Arancini, an Italian gem that is a risotto ball stuffed with mozzarella rolled in bread crumbs, fried and served with a rich tomato sauce.

    Your is a most clever and delectable looking recipe and one I shall whip up once my magic genie cleans up the kitchen. Oh wait, I’m the genie, make that lazy genie. Well wishes, Tom

  18. Karen says:

    These look amazing! And so scrumptious. I tried making glutinous rice balls with a sweet mung bean filling once, but it was a complete disaster. It was all my fault though, because I combined two recipes, which did not exactly provide the desired results…

  19. Nadji says:

    Une recette qui me tente beaucoup.
    A très bientôt.

  20. sonia says:

    rice coconut balls sounds great. Loved the stuffing and the topping.

  21. deana says:

    What a charming idea. I thought at first they were covered in rice… so was surprised that they were covered in coconut. Charming idea. I love small bites of things like this..so good to snack on.

  22. Hélène (Cannes) says:

    Je veux essayer ça absolument. C’ets joli et ça a l’air ultra-bon !
    Bisous et bon weekend

  23. Claudia says:

    “coconut shrimp” is a huge deal in MN. Theseare far more elegant and tasty – and original. Just looking at them gives me pleasure. Now eating them would be heaven.

  24. blackbookkitchendiar says:

    this looks so pretty and elegant! thank you for sharing this.

  25. Devaki says:

    This is one of the most innovative takes on bao I have ever seen…wow! to think I’ve been in love with chia sui baos my whole life, what I would give for these!!! 🙂

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  26. Mary says:

    These look and sound delicious. I really must try them. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  27. Steve @ HPD says:

    you just reminded me … have a bag of sushi rice that i bought for rice balls, but never got around to them. cheers!

  28. Sharon@ Fun and Life says:

    Haha what a coincidence ;). Your rice balls look amazing! They look so appetizing and delicious! I’ve only ever had sweet rice balls so I’d love to try these. You decorated them so nicely too because they’re so pretty! Presentation makes such a difference doesn’t it. Beautiful 🙂

  29. Mimi says:

    Such beautiful rice balls. Cilantro and ginger are a great flavor duo.

  30. Doc says:

    Fresh pasta is the only way to go. If you have a stand mixer the attachments to roll out the pasta are worth the dollars, I think. Love the dish. I also love the dumpling with the coconut on the outside; a delicious alternative to greasy fried coconut shrimp! The Earl grey cake-magnificiant!

  31. Magic of Spice says:

    These are fantastic and so pretty!

  32. Murasaki Shikibu says:

    I have extra shrimp and the recipe I’d like to make the most is the one with shredded filo, but I can’t get that around here! Is this normal rice flour or glutinous rice flour?

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