Monday, January 9, 2012

Stomach Roaring? Roar back with Lion’s Head Meatballs!


No, it’s not some bizarre exotic and illegal headcheese, it’s actually just a pork and vegetable dish with a pretty great name. I guess this is an unofficial bonus dish to 52 weeks of cooking to follow up my last post on Ma-Po Tofu.

While looking for alternatives to Ma-Po tofu (which is delicious) my cousin offered up Lion’s Head as an option. The name itself is enough to give one pause. Just why is it called that?

Probably because the size of these quarter pound pork meatballs is evocative of a Lion’s head, particularly when surrounded by Bok Choy which might seem like a mane. Actually that’s exactly why according to the recipe I used.

Ingredients are chicken broth, black pepper, soy sauce, salt, cooking wine, sesame oil, an egg, starch (corn or potato works), ground pork, ginger and scallions.



And Bok Choy!


The Bok Choy is of course washed, then cut into three inch pieces.


Before getting carried away, heat up some chicken broth with two tablespoons of soy sauce in a large saucepan or stock pot and bring to a boil.


Now to put the meatballs together. First take an egg…


…and beat it.


In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground pork with scallions, ginger…


..A bit of cooking wine…


…Soy sauce…


…Sesame oil...




…and salt.



Really work that stuff together.


Then add the beaten egg.


It’s going to be pretty wet.


But that’s what the starch is for. Add two tablespoons at first, mix, then add more starch by the teaspoon until the mixture comes together nicely.


Still a bit wet.


So I added a teaspoon of cornstarch.


This was pretty good for my needs, as I was able to form it into four balls. Or Lion’s Heads?


Have I mentioned I’m so glad my aunt has a wok?


Heat up a bit of oil in your wok, or large skillet perhaps, over medium high heat and then add the meatballs.


Fry for five minutes before flipping them over carefully. Adjust heat to cook for another five minutes without burning it.


Err slightly on the side of undercooking them, but if they aren’t cooked enough bring up the heat after five minutes until the bottom is as browned as the top.


This is why you err on the low side. Reduce the heat under the chicken broth to a simmer. Toss the balls into simmering chicken broth.


Cover, simmering for ten minutes.


Then top with your Bok Choy. See this Bok Choy? It isn’t enough. That stuff cooks down like mad. Simmer for another 15 minutes, and perhaps check the meatballs for doneness (no signs of pink.) You’re probably safe unless you used frozen ground pork.


And there you have it, Lion’s Head Meatballs. The serving suggestion is to serve each meatball with some of the vegetables and broth, but I think it also works well as a wonderful side to a meal of rice, with it’s broth and meat components being able to feed a large family. Great recipe, I recommend it!


Recipe adapted from
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • 1 pound Bok Choy, washed and cut into 3 inch strips (seriously, one pound. at least.)
  • 1 – 2 scallions, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • teaspoon of sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons rice cooking wine, dry white wine or pale dry sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • (optional) black or white pepper, to taste (I used about a half teaspoon)
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons cornstarch or flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  1. In a big pot bring the chicken broth and 2 tablespoons soy sauce to a boil.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the ground pork with the green onion, ginger, salt, sugar, dry sherry, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, Asian sesame oil, pepper, and the egg.
  3. Mix using your fingers.
  4. Add as much cornstarch as needed to make so that the mixture is not too wet. Two tablespoons, then a teaspoon until mixture is not quite so wet.
  5. Form the ground pork into 4 large meatballs. Flatten slightly with palm.
  6. Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium high heat then add the meatballs. Cook for 5 minutes until browned on the bottom. Flip and cook the other side, lowering heat if the meatballs are cooking too quickly.
  7. Add the meatballs to boiling chicken broth, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
  8. Add Bok Choy right on top of the meatballs. Simmer for another 15 minutes or until the meatballs are done (no pinkness in the middle.)


  1. This recipe looks great, I love using pak choi and those massive meatballs look very tasty!

  2. Thanks! I just looked through your website and you have some really tasty looking posts! I'll have to check em out! I've got a real craving for some chicken korma now...