The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Lion's Head Pork Meatballs

In my quest to make more delicious and nutritious one-pot meals for dinner, I had a go at making some Chinese lion's head meatballs. These are large pork meatballs stewed in vegetables, and are so named because the shape of the meatball is supposed to resemble a lion's head and the vegetable is supposed to resemble the lion's mane. I'm not sure if I've eaten these meatballs before, but I was keen to make it at home for my family. I looked at several recipes online before settling on this one to modify and simplify. I omitted the tofu, used only one type of minced pork and did not bother with the noodles. I formed smaller meatballs too, to make them easier to handle for little hands. The hubby and kids enjoyed the meatballs, so this recipe is a keeper.

Lion's Head Pork Meatballs


500g minced pork
1/4 cup (~120g) drained canned water chestnuts, finely diced
1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger
2 scallions/green onion, chopped
1 egg
3 teaspoons minced garlic (approximately 3 cloves), minced and divided (2 for meatball, 1 for broth)
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided (2 for meatball, 1 in broth)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons cornstarch, divided (1 for meatball, 1 in broth)
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, divided
1 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium broth
500g Chinese cabbage, cut into 2-inch strips


1. In a large bowl, combine minced pork, diced water chestnuts, minced ginger, chopped scallions, egg, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, Shaoxing wine, white pepper, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, sesame oil and 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and gently mix until well combined, being careful not to over-mix. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Using wet hands, form small handfuls of the meatball mixture into balls. Flatten the meatballs a bit.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat in a frying pan, and pan-fry the meatballs in batches until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip meatballs and brown other side, about 3 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a large paper towel-lined plate.

4. In a bowl combine chicken broth, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon minced garlic. Mix well and set aside.

5. In the same pan, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat, and add the thick stem parts of the Chinese cabbage. Cook for a few minutes. Arrange meatballs in the pot in a single layer, pour the chicken broth mixture in, and bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook until meatballs are cooked through (about 10 minutes for large meatballs, 5 minutes for smaller ones).

6. Add the leafy parts of the Chinese cabbage into the pan, cover and simmer for 5 minutes longer.

Serve with rice.

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