Thursday, March 24, 2016

Cookbook Countdown #3 : Lion's Head Meatball

Cookbook Countdown is a monthly cooking/baking event, which I'm co-hosting with Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.  Everyone is welcome to join us. How does it work? To summarize, you may select a cookbook from your own cookbook collection, to cook or bake from each month. That selected book shall be your cookbook of the month. You may cook any recipes and as many recipes as you want from your selected book of the month. This is a fabulous way of using your cookbooks at least once! For more information on how to join Cookbook Countdown, please click here


Cookbook Countdown #3 : Recipe No. 6 - Lion's Head Meatball
from my selected cookbook for this month, My China by Kylie Kwong

This is the kind of dish that I would eat at Chinese restaurants, and would never have thought of making it at home. Now that I've tried Kylie Kwong's version, it really is simple and easy to make at home, the only thing is, to braise the dish at a low simmer for 2 hours.

Two large outer leaves of the napa cabbage are used to line the base of the claypot. I did not cut the leaves into strips as indicated in the recipe. The meatballs are prepared by combining all the meatball ingredients, divide into four equal portions, shape each one into a round ball, then roll in cornstarch to coat all sides. Fry for a few minutes on all sides until golden brown. Using a smaller inner leave of the napa cabbage, wrap each meatball, wrapping the leaves over itself to enclose the meatball. Place the wrapped meatballs in the cabbage-lined claypot. Add in Shao Hsing wine, soy sauce and chicken stock, bring to a boil, then turn down heat to low and simmer for 2 hours.

After the slow braising of two hours, here's the Lion's Head Meatballs. The sauce has reduced to almost half.

Does this resemble a lion's head?  Mmmm.....maybe..

Resembles or not, this is delicious! After the long braising, the cabbage leaves are tender soft and the pork meatballs are very tasty from the wine and soy sauce. We had this with rice for dinner, and the tasty sauce when spooned over the rice and meatballs, delish! Everything was polished off and not a drop of the sauce remains! Yum!

Lion's Head Meatballs
(source from "My China", Kylie Kwong)
2 tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch)
2 large outer leaves and 4 smaller inner leaves Chinese cabbage
4 tablespoons peanut oil
1/2 cup Shao Hsing wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon light soy sauce

Meatballs :
500gm (1lb) fatty pork mince
5cm (2in) piece ginger, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 tablespoons Shao Hsing wine
1 tablespoon brown sugar

To make the meatballs, place all ingredients in a large bowl and, using your hands, mix thoroughly, taking small handfuls and "slapping" them against side of bowl to tenderise meat.
Spread cornflour over a large plate. Divide meatball mixture into four equal portions, shaping each one into a rough round cake - a "lion's head". Carefully roll each meatball in cornflour to coat.
Cut each of the large cabbage leaves crossways into four strips, then use these to line the base of a claypot or flameproof casserole dish.
Heat oil in a hot wok until surface seems to shimmer slightly. Reduce heat to medium-low, then carefully place two meatballs in wok and fry for 2 minutes each side, or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to cabbage-lined claypot. Repeat with remaining meatballs.
Cover each meatball with one of the smaller cabbage leaves, wrapping the cabbage leaf around so that it resembles a lion's mane. Add Shao Hsing wine, stock and soy sauce to claypot, then bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently, covered, for 2 hours.
Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer lion's head meatballs to a serving platter, ladle over sauce and serve immediately.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown hosted by 


  1. Oh my word, Joyce, that may very well be the best stuffed cabbage I have ever seen. It most certainly does resemble a Lion's head, lol...

    Of course, it isn't like any dish I have ever experienced but boy oh boy I sure would LOVE to give it a try. I usually get impatient having to braise for so long but, I'm sure it would be so worth it! Just look at the combination of flavors:)

    Thank you so much for sharing, Joyce...I will be starting up Cookbook Wednesdays once again in April. I'm trying to figure out how I can also join this event too:)

  2. These look amazingly delicious! I went through this book last week, very lovely pictures!

  3. Hi Joyce, this morning, I came across a recipe on Lion's Head and was thinking of cooking it as I have some Chinese cabbage in my fridge. I think I'll follow this recipe cos' I like Kylie Kwong's cooking too. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hi Joyce, 5 cm piece of ginger for 1 lbs of ground pork seems like a lot to me. Do the meatballs taste very ginger-y?

  5. Hi Catherine, after the long braising, the taste of the ginger is mellowed down, but then we love ginger! You can reduce the amount if you like. Hope you give this a try, it is delicious!