Lion’s head meatball is a cuisine from Eastern China; Jiangsu province to be precised. Why the dish is called this name is because the meatballs (size of a small fist) resemble lion heads while the cabbage and bok choy act as its mane. In Chinese culture, lions are the guardians of the palace and buildings. Because it symbolizes peace and harmony, lion’s head meatball make a great Chinese New Year meal.
Before you proceed, here’s a bit of fyi cum warning (hehehe). This recipe is ideal for minced pork lovers and feel free to adjust the meatballs seasonings. You will find it boring if you eat lots of this (even for a minced pork lover like myself). So make the size of the meatballs like mine or smaller and only allocate 1 meatball per person.
Start by preparing the ginger and spring onion juice.
Now we’re ready to braise the meatballs.
In a large claypot or pot, place cabbage at the base, then add soaked dried shrimps and meatballs. Cover 3/4 with chicken stock. Recipe actually ask to cover completely with stock but I find the soup too full once the cabbage soften.
Cover pot with lid and simmer for 40 minutes over low heat.
After 40 minutes, add seasoning, glass noodles and bok choy. Cook for another 3 minutes so that the glass noodles can absorb the gravy. Remove from heat and serve. This dish is best when it’s eaten hot/warm.
Lion’s Head Meatballs
Adapted from Flavors magazine Jan-Feb 2009
Ginger and spring onion juice
In Taiwanese dishes, this combo is use to get rid of smells (meat) and stomach wind.
2 tablespoons ginger, chopped
2 tablespoons spring onions, chopped
Blend ginger, spring onions and water together. Put in a small bowl and place aside.
600g minced pork (use fatty meat from hind trotter-chee kiok as lean meat tends to be dry)
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 1/2 tablespoons cornflour
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons ginger and spring onion juice+pulp (recipe above)
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of white pepper
oil for frying
350g napa cabbage, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon dried shrimps, soaked and drained
chicken stock to cover (I used Korean anchovies stock)
1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce
few drops of sesame oil
dash of white pepper
50g glass noodles (tang hoon), soaked
4 baby bok choy, halved lengthwise (I used 2 large bok choy)
To make meatballs:
1. Place minced pork and the meatballs ingredients in a large bowl and mix until it becomes sticky.
2. Divide mixture into 7-8 portions equally and shape into balls. (Note: The recipe actually indicate 4 balls but I find them too big)
3. Over medium high heat, fry the meatballs with oil until browned on both side. (Note: You don’t have to cook thoroughly as it will be braised later)
4. Remove the meatballs and onto paper towels to drain the oil.
1. Place cabbage and dried shrimps in a large claypot or stainless pot. Then place meatballs on top and cover 3/4 with chicken stock.
2. Cover with lid and simmer for 40 minutes over low heat.
3. Add seasonings, bok choy and glass noddles. Cook for 3 minutes more for the glass noodles to soak in the gravy.
4. Remove from heat and serve.