Monday, February 22, 2016

Lions' Heads (Chinese Pork Meatballs)

Lions' Heads (Chinese Pork Meatballs)

adapted from
The Art of Chinese Cooking by the Benedictine Sisters of  Peking


1 lb. ground lean pork, uncooked
8 dried mushrooms, reconstituted, and chopped fine
12 slices water chestnuts, chopped fine
1 cup onions, chopped fine
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped fine
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. dry sherry
4 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
Vegetable oil for frying
1 head baby bok choy (or cabbage)
1 1/2 cups hot water
5 slices of sandwich bread
Cooked Rice, follow directions on package


1. Mix thoroughly the first twelve ingredients.
2. Form into 1 1/2" meatballs, about 16 meatballs. (Meatballs will be gooey.)
3. Layer baby bok choy leaves on bottom of a dutch oven. (Don't heat on stove yet.)
4. Heat a large skillet with 1/4" vegetable oil. Heat until a small piece of bread dropped in causes oil to sizzle. (If it spits, the oil is too hot. Remove from heat until oil cools to right temperature.)
5. Add meatballs to pan without overcrowding. Brown meatballs 2-3 minutes each side, turning with slotted spoon.

6. When browned, remove meatballs and place on top of bok choy in dutch oven, creating a single layer of meatballs.

7. Add hot water.
8.  Place bread slices over meatballs, overlapping.*

9. Cook over low heat, simmering meatballs and bok choy.
10. Let simmer for at least 30 minutes.
11. Discard bread. (You could take off the gooey parts, toast the rest, crumble, and freeze the breadcrumbs for later use in a different recipe. But it is easier to discard.)
12. Serve bok choy and meatballs on top of prepared rice. Ladle stock over meatballs and rice, if desired.

Serves 4-6, 3-4 meatballs each.

Lions' Heads over rice and served with Chicken With Vegetables Stir-Fry


This recipe had to be heavily edited from the original in order to give more clarity. The ingredients are the same, with the only exceptions being the baby bok choy (originally Cabbage or Chinese Cabbage) and the sesame oil (originally just "oil"). The bread slices were given as an option for reducing the odor of cooking cabbage. I used the bread because I knew it would help the meatballs cook more evenly.

The original has you make three large meatballs, which would be divided among six people. I felt that making smaller meatballs would be easier for division among kids and for more thorough cooking.

This dish keeps well! Due to circumstances, I had to wait before serving the kids. (How's that for truth in blogging?) The meatballs simmered for an hour, and they were still tender and delicious. My husband wasn't able to eat until late due to a glitch in yardwork . . . so I removed the bread, put the lid on the dutch oven, and put in the oven at 200 degrees. It was still fantastic an hour later!

*To make these gluten-free: Partially cover the dutch oven with a lid to allow some steam to escape instead of covering the meatballs with bread slices.

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