Lion's Head Meatballs

By Gourmet Guy
August 8, 2010
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Lion's Head Meatballs

Author Notes: I had Lion's Head Meatballs in Chinatown (NYC) a few years ago, and I came home and tried to recreate them. I did pretty well!Gourmet Guy

Serves: 3-4

For the meatballs:

  • 1 1/4 pounds 1 1/4 pounds coarsely ground pork butt One 3-inch square soft tofu, about 4 oz., mashed well 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing), or medium-dry sherry 1 tablespoon grated

For the casserole:

  • 1 small head napa cabbage, or 1/2 large head, enough to make six cups of 2 1/2-inch strips 2 1/2 cups chicken broth 2 tablespoons soy sauce, or more to taste 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing or Manjo) or medium-dry sherry 2 teaspoons sugar (omit
  1. Make the meatballs: Place all the ingredients except the oil in the first group of ingredients in a large glass bowl. Blend until well combined, but don’t overwork the mixture. Shape the mixture into 8 meatballs with wet hands, and place the meatballs on a sheet of waxed paper. Clean the bowl for the cabbage.
  2. In a skillet large enough to hold the meatballs in a single layer without crowding too much, heat 1/2 inch of oil over medium-high heat. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of the cornstarch on a plate and lightly dust the meatballs. Brown the meatballs for about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels.
  3. Prepare the casserole: Remove the tough outer leaves from the cabbage and trim off about 1 1/2 inches of the stem ends of the leaves. Cut the tender inner leaves in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 2 1/2-inch lengths. Measure 6 cups of the cabbage and save the rest for another use. Rinse the strips well, place them in the glass bowl, and microwave the strips for 1 minute or until just warmed through. Refresh the strips under cold running water.
  4. In a large glass measure, microwave the stock, soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar until the mixture simmers, about 3 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, arrange half the cabbage on the bottom of a 3-quart Dutch oven. Arrange the meatballs on the cabbage in one layer and cover with the remaining cabbage. Pour in the hot chicken stock mixture; it should barely cover the cabbage. Cook the meatballs over medium-low heat, keeping the pot at a bare simmer for 12-15 minutes, partially covered, until the cabbage is just tender, but not overcooked. Drizzle in the corn starch mixture and simmer, stirring gently, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 4 minutes. Garnished with scallions and serve with rice.

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