LION’S HEAD MEATBALLS
A traditional Chinese dish called “lion’s head meatballs” consists of enormous pork meatballs, Napa cabbage, and a wonderful soup. It distinguishes itself by its amazing size, delicate texture, and flavor. For a restaurant-quality result, use my recipe.
Without mentioning meatballs, the dish’s name in Chinese is simply “Lion’s Head. Its unique name may have you wondering why it was given. Yan-kit, a cookbook author and food historian from China, claims that because of this, when the dish is presented, the meatball, which is the size of a tennis ball, resembles the head of a lion, and the cabbage, its mane.
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There are several common methods to prepare and serve this dish. The meatballs may be deep-fried, steamed, or water-cooked (same as the method I introduced in the post for Winter Melon & Meatball Soup). They would either be served in a clear broth with Napa cabbage or with a thick sauce made with soy sauce. For today’s recipe, I’ve decided to pair Napa cabbage, deep-fried meatballs, and a transparent soup with a mushroom flavor.
For Making the meatballs
▢2 stalks scallions
▢1 thumb-sized ginger
▢400 g minced pork
▢100 g minced chicken
▢2 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
▢2 tablespoon light soy sauce
▢½ teaspoon salt
▢1 tablespoon cornstarch
▢½ teaspoon sugar
▢½ teaspoon sesame oil
▢1 large egg
▢60 g water chestnut, minced
▢Cooking oil for deep frying
For the soup
▢7 pieces Napa cabbage leaves, cut in halves crosswise
▢6 large dried shiitake mushroom, soaked in 500ml water overnight
▢½ tablespoon dried shrimp – optional
▢¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
▢1 pinch ground white pepper
Make the meatball combination
Slice the ginger, cut the scallions into slices, and save some of the green portions to decorate the dish later. Place them in a 6 tablespoon warm water bath. Let it cool.
Korean Rice Cake Soup
Combine the minced chicken and pork with the cornflour, salt, sugar, sesame oil, Shaoxing rice wine, and light soy sauce in a bowl. While adding the scallion ginger water gradually, stir continuously in one direction.
Stir in the minced water chestnut once the liquid has completely been absorbed and the meat has turned sticky and jiggly.
Meatballs are formed and fried
Heat the deep-frying oil in a large pot (A smaller pot requires less oil).
6 portions should be made from the meat combination. Put a portion in a small bowl. Press the meat against the bowl with a spatula or a spoon to form it into a ball (please refer to the video below).
Gently lower the meatball into the oil when it reaches 180°C/360°F (see note 4 if you don’t have a kitchen thermometer) (be careful not to splash). To ensure equal coloring, roll it occasionally. When they appear golden throughout, remove.
To form and cook the remaining balls, follow the same technique. Avoid frying more than two meatballs at once since they are rather large (about 7cm/2.7in); you don’t want the oil temperature to decrease too much. The meatballs also require room to move around in the oil.
Prepare the soup
Place the fried meatballs on top of the Napa cabbage’s white portion in another saucepan.
Add the water that the shiitake mushrooms were steeped in, then add the sliced mushrooms (discard the solid bits at the bottom of the bowl).The soup should come to a full boil. Lower the temperature. For 15 minutes, simmer the mixture with a cover on. Over the meatballs, place the remaining leafy portion of the cabbage. Add five more minutes to the simmering process.
Add the dried shrimp, scallions, and ginger (used to season the water used to cook the meat combination) (if using).
Sliced scallions should be used as a garnish. Along with other savory foods, serve warm beside plain rice.
- For this meal, Chinese master chefs always use hand-chopped pork rather than minced pork. The texture thought to improved manual mincing. If you have the time, I suggest you give this approach a shot.
- Depending on the size of your cookware, you will need different amounts of oil for deep frying. I advise you to use a small, deep pot to conserve oil.To determine whether an oil is acceptable for deep frying, read the label.
- I prefer dried shiitake mushrooms to fresh ones for a fuller flavor. They frequently offered in traditional internet retailers as well as Chinese/Asian businesses.
- In addition to a kitchen thermometer, you can check the temperature with a chopstick. Pour some oil on the tip. The temperature is hot enough to begin frying if little bubbles start to form around the chopstick right away.