Lion’s head meatballs

Lion’s head meatballs
  • Serves icon Serves 2
  • Time icon Hands-on time 40 min, plus 30 min soaking, simmering time 25 min

These Chinese pork meatballs come from Amy Poon, the force behind Poon’s London, a family food business producing top-quality Chinese sauces, oils and dressings. If you like a pork meatball, these are a must-try. Flavoured with soy, shaoxing wine, ginger, and white pepper, they’re large and plump, and are fried and then simmered – resulting in a soft and pleasing texture.

They make a brilliant dish to celebrate Lunar New Year with. Amy says: “Powerful, majestic creatures like lions, tigers and dragons are auspicious in Chinese culture, and these meatballs are named after their size – they’re unusually large, representing a lion’s head, with the frilly cabbage leaves surrounding them being the lion’s mane. This is a dish for celebrations.”

Make this recipe as part of Amy’s Chinese New Year menu.

Nutrition: Per serving

Calories
621kcals
Fat
29g (10g saturated)
Protein
57g
Carbohydrates
28g (15g sugars)
Fibre
3.6g
Salt
4.3g
Calories
621kcals
Fat
29g (10g saturated)
Protein
57g
Carbohydrates
28g (15g sugars)
Fibre
3.6g
Salt
4.3g

Ingredients

  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 spring onions, white parts cut into 2cm pieces, green parts finely sliced
  • Thumb-size piece ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 500g pork mince (at least 20% fat)
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp shaoxing wine
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 medium free-range egg
  • 1 tbsp potato starch or cornflour
  • Vegetable oil to deep-fry
  • 8 large Chinese cabbage leaves
  • 60g water chestnuts (about 10 from a tin), bashed with the side of a knife, then roughly chopped
  • Pinch white pepper

Method

  1. Put the mushrooms in a bowl and cover with 450ml hot water. Cover and leave for 30 minutes.
  2. Put the spring onion whites and ginger slices in a bowl with 6 tbsp water and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a beater attachment or in a large mixing bowl, add the pork, soy sauce, shaoxing wine, salt, sugar, sesame oil, egg and potato starch/cornflour. Beat or stir until very well mixed – you want the mince to have broken down into an almost paste-like mixture. Add 1 tbsp of the water from the spring onions and ginger, then beat/mix again until it’s fully absorbed. Divide the mixture into 6 equal meatballs.
  3. Fill a small pan two thirds full of oil and heat to 180°C. Lower in one of the meatballs and fry until golden, turning occasionally. The meatballs will finish cooking later, so you’re only after a crisp golden exterior at this point. Drain on kitchen paper, then repeat with the remaining meatballs.
  4. Lift the shiitake mushrooms out of their soaking liquid (reserve the liquid), remove and discard the stems, then slice. Cut the cabbage leaves in half widthways, so the whiter, firmer bottom is separated from the greener, leafier top. Lay the white pieces in the base of a saucepan or clay cooking pot (or divide between 2 clay cooking pots) just large enough to fit the meatballs in one layer. Top with the meatballs. Drain the spring onion whites and ginger, then tuck these in between the meatballs along with the sliced mushrooms and water chestnuts. Pour the reserved mushroom soaking liquid into the pan/pot(s), keeping back the final few drops to avoid adding any grit. Season with salt and a pinch of white pepper. Bring to a boil over a high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid and tuck the green parts of the cabbage leaves around the pot so the leaves cover the meatballs. Replace the lid and simmer for a further 5 minutes. To serve, bring the pan or pot to the table and uncover the meatballs by tucking the green leaves around the side, then garnish with the spring onion greens.

Recipe By

Amy Poon

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