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Lion's Head Meatballs

COOK TIME
50 mins
PREP TIME
20 mins
SERVINGS
4
RATE THIS RECIPE
(5)
Lion's Head Meatballs
Hsiao-Ching Chou
COOK TIME
50 mins
PREP TIME
20 mins
SERVINGS
4
RATE THIS RECIPE
(5)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground pork, preferably with some fat in it and isn't too lean
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or dry marsala wine
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 pound Chinese cabbage
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 small bundle bean thread noodles, soaked in warm water to reconstitute
  • Steamed rice, for serving
  • Chef notes

    I love humble dishes that give more than they take. It's soupy and hearty without being heavy. For Chinese New Year, this dish represents a big, happy family.

    Technique tip: The recipe calls for a wok, but if you don't have a wok, you can use a sauté pan to brown the meatballs.

    Swap option: You can use beef instead of pork, if you'd like. If you don't have Shaoxing wine or dry marsala, you can either skip the wine or use whatever dry white wine you have on hand.

    Preparation

    1.

    In a large bowl, place the ground pork, soy sauce, wine, ginger, sesame oil and green onions, and mix very well. Divide the mixture into 6 portions and shape each into a meatball.

    2.

    Preheat a wok or sauté pan over high heat until wisps of smoke rise from the surface. Add the vegetable oil and heat until it begins to shimmer. Using a sloped spoon, gently lower 3 meatballs into the oil. Brown the meatballs for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, adjusting the heat as needed. You don't need to cook the meatballs all the way through. Transfer the meatballs to a dinner plate. Repeat with the remaining meatballs.

    3.

    Cut the core out of the Chinese cabbage. Leave the inner leaves whole. Cut the larger, outer leaves into segments (it's okay if the pieces are large, because by the time the braise is done, the cabbage leaves will have cooked down. If the pieces are too small, they'll "melt").

    4.

    In a Dutch oven large enough to hold all the meatballs, add the cabbage leaves and place the browned meatballs on top of the cabbage. Add the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 45 minutes, uncovered, or until the broth tastes delicious and the cabbage has cooked down.

    5.

    Stir in the salt, adding more to taste if necessary. Submerge the noodles in the broth and let them soften for about 5 minutes. Serve with rice.