Recognized around the world, TED and TEDx Talks are all about “ideas worth spreading.”  These short but powerful presentations serve to connect people from different disciplines and cultures who use the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and the world.

At a special UN-hosted TEDx event in Geneva last month, the Alliance’s Dr. Ranyee Chiang helped spread the idea that standards for clean cooking technologies were critical to advancing how the world cooks. They’re also pretty important, she added, when it comes to cooking her “Nai Nai’s” famous meatballs.

Representing the International Organization for Standardization, Dr. Chiang, Alliance Director for Standards, Technology and Fuels, spoke about how cooking unites families, generations, and the world.  Referencing the high standards established by her grandmother, or “Nai Nai,” when it came to cooking her traditional meatball recipe, Dr. Chiang noted that standardized performance of cooking technologies were necessary and already helping to drive the cookstoves and fuels sector forward.

She was one of 11 speakers, each representing a different international organization and coordinated by the United Nations Geneva office, who gave presentations at TEDx Place des Nations on diverse topics that included children’s rights, refugee integration, global health, disaster risk reduction, and sustainable energy. 

Watch Ranyee’s personal story of family, Nai Nai’s meatballs, and the meaning of cooking and standards:


The most common response from the audience after her talk was, “I didn’t realize cooking led to so many impacts for so many people in the world.”  That was followed by, “Your talk made me very hungry.  Can I have the recipe for Nai Nai’s meatballs?” 

Ranyee’s grandmother Nai Nai’s recipe for zhen zhu wan zi (“pearl meatballs”) recipe is shared below.  If this talk also makes you hungry for better technologies and fuels for cooking, and you can find that “recipe” here:


Nai Nai’s Zhen Zhu Wan Zi (“Pearl Meatballs”)

Yield: Approx. 30 - 36 meatballs

1.5 cup glutinous or sticky rice (200 g)
1/2 tsp salt (3 g)
2 slices of fresh ginger, ¼ in thick (1/2 cm)
3 green onions
1/2 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup saltine, soda, or cream cracker crumbs (25 g)
1 cup crushed water chestnuts (140 g)
1 pound ground pork (0.45 kg) (can substitute other types of ground meat)
1.5 tablespoons soy sauce (20 mL)
1 teaspoons sesame oil (5 mL)
1/2 teaspoons ground white pepper (1 g)
1/2 teaspoon salt (3 g)

  1. Preparations to be done at least 4 hours in advance:  Cover rice with water, mix in salt, and soak.  Place ginger slices and 2 coarsely chopped green onions in a separate bowl and fill bowl with enough water to cover.  Soak to infuse flavors into water.
  2. After these ingredients have soaked for 4 hours, drain the water from the soaked rice.  Remove the ginger slices and green onions from the water, and save the liquid. 
  3. Finely chop the remaining  green onion and clove of garlic.
  4. Crush water chestnuts.  A rolling pin works well.
  5. Mix together garlic, finely chopped green onion, cracker crumbs, pork, crushed water chestnuts, soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, and 1/4 cup (60 mL) of the ginger and green onion infused liquid.
  6. Shape the pork mixture into balls (2 – 3 cm or 1 in).  Roll each in the soaked sticky rice to fully coat.
  7. Place assembled meatballs into steamer basket.  Steam over simmering water for 25-30 minutes, or until rice is translucent and pork and rice are fully cooked.