Harinezumi (“hedgehog” meatballs with eggplant and miso sauce)

by | Mar 5, 2020 | Food and cooking, Lifestyle

Harinezumi (“hedgehog” meatballs with eggplant and miso sauce)

by | Mar 5, 2020 | Food and cooking, Lifestyle

So here is my recipe for my “hedgehog” meatballs.

Not hedgehog meat of course (I know you were thinking it!) but pork mince with grated carrot “spikes.” This was a recipe I made up when I arrived home from my first trip to Japan about a week ago. It was a major hit with everyone and I will definitely be making it again.

Japan is such an awesome country – so clean, so technologically advanced, fantastic public transport, amazing food and such polite people. I loved it so much and cannot wait to go back. We had lots of adventures, including trekking up into the mountains to see the snow monkeys, wandering around Yanaka, touring out to Mt Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi, exploring Harajuku and Shinjuku and eating LOADS of delicious food. But I have to say a highlight was visiting the “Hedgehog Cafe” where, for half an hour and about the equivalent of AUD$15, we were allowed to hold and feed baby African Pygmy Hedgehogs (or hoglets as the babies are called). Oh my goodness.

These meatballs are inspired by those cute little animals and our visit to Japan. The mini meatballs (hoglets) you see in the gallery, were for the kids. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. Note that the miso sauce could be used for a variety of purposes – and you can freeze it to use later on another dish.


  • 500g pork mince
  • 2 medium sized carrots peeled and grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs (I use panko crumbs but any type will do)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 small bunch (ie one plant with common roots) coriander chopped finely
  • 2 green shallots finely chopped


  • 100mL Sake
  • 120 mL mirin
  • 1 cup of white/red miso paste
  • 100mL water
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 1 large eggplant chopped into cubes
  • Oil for pan-frying
  • Steamed rice to serve
  • Coriander and chopped shallots to garnish

Meatballs & eggplant METHOD:

  1.  Place all ingredients for meatballs into a large mixing bowl.  Use hands to mix well until combined
  2. Roll mixture into balls of desired sizes (for adult “hedgehogs” my meatballs had a diameter of about 6cm (2.5in)  and for the “hoglets” about 4cm (1.5in) )
  3. Heat oil in a wok or non-stick fry pan; you will know the oil is hot enough when the meatballs sizzle when they are put in the pan
  4. Fry meatballs, turning around every couple of minutes until browned all over
  5. Smaller meatballs will take less time to cook through
  6. Remove from pan to a plate lined with paper towel to drain
  7. Use the same pan/oil to fry chopped eggplant until softened

Miso Sauce

  1. Place ingredients for sauce in a small saucepan
  2. Heat until boiling, whisking constantly (this sauce has a tendency to catch and burn so you need to be a little vigilant)
  3. Once boiling point is reached, reduce heat to low and simmer gently (whisking occasionally) for about 20 min until sauce reduces and thickens
  4. Turn off heat (and sauce will thicken slightly further on standing)
  5. You can keep remaining sauce in a jar in a fridge for a month (or in the freezer for even longer)

Pulling it together:

  1. Serve up your steamed (I like jasmine) rice
  2. Dish out the eggplant onto the rice
  3. Place your “hedgehogs” onto the rice and eggplant (I serve 4-5 larger meatballs per person – but we eat quite a lot in our family)
  4. Pour your miso sauce over the top, and garnish with coriander leaves/chopped spring onion
  5. Enjoy hot (and with some chilli sauce if you so desire!)


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About Dr Megs

About Dr Megs

Megan is a Brisbane and Ipswich-based paediatrician in public and private practice, and mum to two small children. You can usually find her working hard in private practice at Paeds in a Pod North Lakes and Greenslopes, and in public practice at Ipswich Hospital.

PLEASE NOTE: This blog is written for the purpose of providing GENERAL advice about common children's health topics (and of course recipes). It is NOT a substitute for a proper medical assessment and examination by a qualified physician. If your child is unwell, seek medical and attention and advice in person.