Lion Head Meatballs

Don’t let the name of this dish scare you. There is no lion meat in this recipe! Lions head refers to the look of this dish. As you can see here in my wok, the meatball would be the head of the lion and the napa cabbage, the mane. Do you see it?

These flavorful meatballs are about the size of baseballs, swimming in a rich meaty broth with the cabbage.  The broth is great over steamed rice and it’s basically a one pot dish. There’s just something really homey about one pot dishes, don’t you think?

This is definitely a comfort food for me.  My mom wouldn’t make it often because we really didn’t eat much ground beef, so it was always a treat.  And, if you eat these meatballs, you ‘ll be as strong as a lion………….maybe!

Lion Head Meatballs

from Ching-He Huang


1 pound 2 ounces ground beef

2 ounces Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pinch white pepper


3 1/2 ounces oil

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock

11 ounces Chinese cabbage, quartered lengthwise from leaf to stem end

3 dried shiitake mushrooms

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch, blended with 2 tablespoons cold water, optional

salt and white pepper

2 large green onions, sliced

For the meatballs:

Put the ground beef, rice wine, garlic, spring onions, egg, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch, salt, and white pepper into a large bowl to combine, stirring in the same direction.

Using wet hands, scoop a large mound of the ground meat mixture, and mold it into a ball. Transfer the meatball to a plate and repeat with the remaining mixture.

For the assembly:

Pour the oil into a large deep pan, and heat over a high heat. Using a metal ladle, carefully lower each meatball into the oil, and spoon some of the oil over the meatballs. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until browned.

Pour all but 2 tablespoons of oil into a heat-proof bowl. Add the vegetable stock to the pan. Arrange the quarters of Chinese cabbage around the meatballs, curving them lengthwise around the sides of the pan, then add the mushrooms, and soy sauce. Bring everything to a boil. Cover the pan, reduce its heat, and cook gently for 15 minutes. Add the blended cornstarch slurry, if using, and stir until the sauce thickens.

Remove the pan from the heat, and season with salt, and white pepper, to taste, and sprinkle over the spring onion slices. Transfer the dish to a warm serving platter, and serve immediately.


3 thoughts on “Lion Head Meatballs

  1. i made this tonight and added some things i had on hand, like fresh spinach and mung bean noodles. a meal in itself! it got rave reviews from the hubby and daughter. 🙂 thanks, karen! 🙂

  2. Pingback: The Year of the Dragon | Karen in the Kitchen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s