Lion’s head meatball is a classic Chinese dish along with giant pork meatballs, Napa cabbage and a tasty broth. It stands out for its dazzling size, gentle texture and aromatic taste.
For the meatballs
- 2 stalks scallions
- 1 thumb-sized ginger
- 400 g minced pork, with 20% fat or higher,
- 100 g minced chicken
- 2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 60 g water chestnut, minced, about 10 canned ones
- Cooking oil for deep frying
For the soup
- 7 pieces Napa cabbage leaves, cut in halves crosswise
- 6 large dried shiitake mushroom, soaked in 500ml water overnight
- tsp salt, or to taste
- 1 pinch ground white pepper
Prepare the meatball mixture
- Cut the scallions into sections (save some green parts for garnishing the dish later) and slice the ginger. Soak them in 6 tbsp of warm water. Leave to cool.
- In a bowl, mix minced pork, minced chicken, Shaoxing rice wine, light soy sauce, salt, sugar, sesame oil, egg and cornstarch. Stir constantly in one direction while adding the scallion ginger water little by little.
- Once the liquid is fully absorbed and the meat becomes sticky and jiggly, add minced water chestnut then stir to combine.
Shape & fry the meatballs
- In a deep pot, heat up oil for deep frying (A smaller pot requires less oil).
- Divide the meat mixture into 6 portions. Transfer one portion to a small bowl. Use a spatular or a spoon to press the meat against the bowl to shape it into a ball (please refer to the video below).
- When the temperature of the oil reaches 180°C/360°F (see note 4 if you don’t have a kitchen thermometer), gently slide the meatball into the oil (be careful not to splash). Roll it from time to time to ensure even colouring. Take out when they look golden all around.
- Repeat the procedure to shape and fry the rest of the balls. Since these meatballs are quite large (about 7cm/2.7in), do not fry more than 2 balls at a time as you don’t want the oil temperature to drop too much. Also, the meatballs need ample space to move around in the oil.
Cook the soup
- In another pot, lay the white part of the Napa cabbage then place the fried meatballs on top.
- Add sliced shiitake mushrooms and pour in the water in which the mushrooms were soaked (discard the solid bits at the bottom of the bowl).
- Add the scallions & ginger (which were used to flavor the water used in the meat mixture) and dried shrimp (if using). Season with salt and white pepper.
- Bring the soup to a full boil. Turn the heat to low. Cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 15 mins. Put the remaining leafy part of the cabbage over the meatballs. Continue simmering for a further 5 mins.
- Garnish with finely chopped scallions. Serve warm with plain rice, along with other savory dishes.