(獅子頭) Lion head is a famous dish in Chinese cuisine. It originates from Eastern China and the history of this dish goes back to the Sui Dynasty.
Emperor Yang of Sui brought his queens had take a boat trip to south east China. He especially loved the landscape and views of Yangzhou. So, afterwards he went back to his palace and gave his chefs four cooking subjects which were inspirited from landscapes of Yangzhou. Lion head was one of the dishes been created but back at that time Lion head is not known as Lion head. It wasn’t until the Tang Dynasty that the name changed to Lion head because it looks like a male lion’s head.
You will find out the meat balls really look like a Chinese guardian lions head if you have ever seen the pictures. Well, now you know when Chinese people talking about “ hey, let’s have lion head tonight for dinner “ it doesn’t mean real “Lion’s head”, it’s just Chinese style of meatball. I always remember when I told my Italian friend that I’m going to cook him “Lion head” and his jaw nearly dropped to the floor with a terrified look. Until now, this memory still makes us laugh all the time.
Here is the recipe for Lion head meatballs:
Lion Head Meatballs
Lion Head Meatball's Ingredients
- 50 g pork mince
- 300 g pork belly without skin
- 2 spring onions chop really finely
- 10 g ginger chop really finely
- 1 large egg
- 50 g tofu
Seasonings for Meatballs
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 pinch white pepper powder
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp potato starch
Ingredients for soup
- 1/2 medium Chinese leaf medium size leaf quartered lengthways
- 3 bunches glass noodles soak in warm water until soft
- 2 spring onions cut 3cm lengthways
- 1 leek
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 thin slices ginger
- 1 star anise
- 1 small piece cinnamon
- 200 g tofu place into a container and cover in the water. Frozen it for a few hours until it has small honeycomb ish holds. After it defrost a little bit and slice it to 2 cm thick squire shape. (This is optional. “frozen tofu” is very popular in Taiwan because I had lots tofu left over from make mixture of lion head so I deicide to cook with it.)
Seasonings for soup
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- water or stock
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
- 1/2 tsp sugar
Lion Head Meatballs Procedure
Cut the pork belly into small dice and use blender to blend it into really finely mince.
Mix all the ingredients and seasonings together and start throwing down the meatballs mixture a few times. This is for pursuing the better texture and taste of meatballs. It’s also a fantastic way to release your anger.
With damp hands, take a large mound of the minced meat mixture and mould into a ball. Place on a plate and repeat with the remaining meatball mixture.
Heat up a deep pan with oil for fry the meatballs or use a frying pay with more than 1cm high of oil to fry the meatballs. This is help the meatballs to settle the shape and enhance the colour of it. After just leave meatballs on aside.
Use a frying pan to sauté ginger, garlic, spring onion and leek until it turned a little bit soft.
Add star anise and cinnamon to sauté with.
Place procedures 2 and meatballs we made earlier into a stock pot or a casserole dish.
Add all the seasonings into the pot and use water or stock to cover the meatballs.
Use full strength power to boil it then turn to lowest fire to simmer it for 30~45 minutes and then put Chinese leaf, frozen tofu into the pot to cook for another 15~20 minutes until it’s soft.
Add glass noodle at the end to cook with the meatballs as glass noodles will absorb a lot of soup. After the glass noodles soften add the lion head meatballs. Then of course you can eat.
You can also blanch some bok choy for garnish.