Lion Head Meatballs

lion head meatballs

(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

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 2 people

Ingredients

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

Instructions

Lion Head Meatballs Procedure

  1. Cut the pork belly into small dice and use blender to blend it into really finely mince.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Soup Procedure

  1. Use a frying pan to sauté ginger, garlic, spring onion and leek until it turned a little bit soft.
  2. Add star anise and cinnamon to sauté with.
  3. Place procedures 2 and meatballs we made earlier into a stock pot or a casserole dish.
  4. Add all the seasonings into the pot and use water or stock to cover the meatballs.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Recipe Notes

You can also blanch some bok choy for garnish.

 

Coriander Chili Beef Mince

When I was a child coriander chili beef mince was one of my favourite dishes. It’s a very popular dish within my family and my mother and grandmother used to cook this dish often. I always pigged out on this coriander chili beef mince with a big bowl of rice and my grandmother always felt really proud I loved it so much. My grandmother loves cooking for people and is happy when people walk away from the table feeling pregnant from eating.

Coriander is also known in the Far East as “Chinese parsley”. We use a lot of coriander in our dishes in Taiwan. Coriander has a special fragrance and the taste can really enhance the flavour of the fish.

I had bit of a problem making this dish though. British Supermarkets only sell chopped coriander but in China and Taiwan we can buy whole stalks of coriander. For us the stalks/roots have the most flavour so while this dish has a coriander taste it’s not as strong as I would have liked. So as compensation I added a small amount of celery diced really small to enhance the flavour.

Before service you can deep fry some shredded sweet potato for garnish for this dish. The colour alone of the sweet potato makes this dish look a lot better and it tastes really great.  You can also use Chinese celery instead of coriander if you have problem finding coriander.

Here is another tip to make this dish even more delicious. Don’t use packet mince from a supermarket. I bought rib eye steak (or you can use sirloin steak) and froze it for 40 minutes to 1 hour. The meat will be a little bit hard but not “frozen” hard. Shred the steak first then chop really really finely. Steak chopped up always tastes so much better than mince although it’s really up to you if you want to do this or not.

coriander chili beef mince

 

Coriander Chili Beef Mince

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch coriander stalk chop finely
  • 400 g rib eye steak or sirloin stake, mince it
  • 2 cloves garlic chop finely
  • 1 chili remove seeds and chop finely

Marinade for beef mince

  • 1.5 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 pinch pepper powder
  • 1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine

Instructions

  1. Wash the coriander and remove the leaves, chop stalk finely
  2. Take the ribeye (or sirloin) and freeze it for 40 minutes to 1 hour. The meat will be a little bit hard but not frozen hard. Shred the steak first then chop really finely.
  3. Marinade the steak mince with all the seasoning and leave it for half an hour.
  4. Heat the wok with some oil until the oil is smoking and stir fry the steak mince for 10 seconds. Get rid of the oil and place the mince on to a plate.
  5. Heat the wok with some oil. Turn to a low heat and stir fry the garlic and chili first and then add the coriander and stir fry for another 10 seconds. Add a little bit of salt to season it and turn the gas to strong heat and add beef mince to stir fry it together for 1 minute. It’s now ready to serve.

 

Chinese Style Deep Fried Chicken Wings

These Chinese style deep fried chicken wings use a special ingredient called “fermented bean curd” to enhanced it’s flavour. Fermented bean curd is also known as “tofu cheese”. I know a lot of Western people are scared about tofu so tofu cheese probably sounds horrendous but for a lot of Eastern people it’s like a delight from heaven.

We use it in a lot of different dishes, such as stir fry vegetables. For me this is just like cheese and you will either love it or hate I. If you’re a bit more adventurous with your food I definitely recommend you give this dish a try.

Different Chinese speaking countries have their own style and flavour of tofu cheese. For example, Sichuan tofu cheese is more spicy, Beijing tofu cheese has a red colour, Shaoxing tofu cheese has a wine flavour and so forth. Different kinds of tofu cheese add different qualities to different dishes.

The dish I made for this post, Chinese Style Deep Fried Chicken Wings is a really easy to cook dish. It’s really tasty and all of the ingredients and all of the ingredients can be bought from either your local regular supermarket and virtually all Chinese supermarkets. I used 2 pieces of spicy tofu cheese to enhance the flavour of the marination. you can adjust the usage of tofu cheese to suit your taste as tofu cheese has a very strong flavour. If you use tofu cheese I suggest you use less salt than you would normally when you marinade the chicken wings.

chinese style deep fried chicken wings
fermented beancurd

 

Chinese Style Deep Fried Chicken Wings

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 15 chicken wings

Ingredients for Marinade

  • 1/2 cup light soy sauce
  • 2 chunks tofu cheese
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 spring onion chop finely
  • 2 cloves garlic chop finely
  • 2 pieces ginger chop finely
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 pinch pepper powder

Instructions

  1. Mix all the marination ingredients in a big bowl evenly  and add the chicken wings. Use your hand to gently massage the chicken wings with the marination to ensure the marinade covers the chicken wings evenly. If you have any excess marination on the chicken be sure to gently brush this off with your hand.
  2. Marinade the chicken wings for 1 hour at least.
  3. Heat up the oil to around 180 degrees. Deep fry the chicken wings until they have turned a light golden brown colour.

 

Strawberry Almond Tofu Dessert

In the last week my life has changed so much and hopefully for the better. As you know I’ve been working as a chef for a few years but as well as cooking one of my other passions is drawing. When I was in my teens I had the option of either studying art or studying cooking and I ended up studying the latter but I’ve always wanted to see what I can achieve by studying something else.

So in the last few weeks I applied to study a full time course in Illustration at a well known college in Edinburgh and I’ve been accepted. Yay! I really love the people I work with but one day I will have to move back to my country and in Taiwan there are no places for female chefs. The vast majority of chefs in Taiwan are men and it’s very difficult for a woman to have a decent place in a professional kitchen.

Also, you’ll have to admit I’m a bit too delicate to work as a chef. Remember my broken finger last week and all my burns? It’s too much.

Another great bit of news is I’ll keep working part time at the same restaurant while I study but I’ll also have a lot more time to update my blog so you should expect to see a lot more recipes coming from me in the future and maybe one day (hopefully!) I’ll get my book finished!

So let’s talk about today’s recipe…

Strawberry Almond Tofu Dessert

The way I made this dish isn’t the traditional way for making Almond Tofu Dessert. The traditional way is you cut the almond tofu into small diamond shapes surrounded by pieces of diced fruit and syrup. I made this dish with strawberries as we’re in strawberry season right now and I chilled the dish in the fridge so this is a nice cool dish. This is a great dessert for the summer.

We believe almonds will give you beautiful smooth skin so we like to eat lots of almonds. The name of this dish might sound like a contradiction as there’s no tofu in this dish but the main ingredient, soy milk, is the same as from tofu, so I guess this is why we call it Almond Tofu.

This dish is made up of strawberry coulis at the bottom with the almond tofu on top, topped with fresh fruit of choice. The strawberry coulis has pieces of fresh strawberry in it as well.

strawberry almond tofu dessert

 

Strawberry Almond Tofu Dessert

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 4 portions

Ingredients

Ingredients for Strawberry Coulis

  • 100 g fresh strawberries
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 70 g water
  • 2 tsp corn flour

Ingredients for Almond Tofu

  • 1 ltr soy milk
  • 4 pieces gelatine
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 200 g peeled almonds
  • 100 g water
  • 2 drops almond extract

Instructions

Procedure for Strawberry Coulis

  1. Use a food processor to purify 100g of fresh strawberries then put into a small sauce pot along with the water and sugar. Bring  this to the boil.
  2. Mix the corn flour with 2 teaspoons of water in a separate bowl and gradually stir into the saucepan from step one to ensure  even texture. Bring the sauce to the boil again after adding this mixture. Once it has boiled pour the mixture into a bowl and allow to cool down.

Procedure for Almond Tofu

  1. Use the food processor to blend the almonds almost to a powder texture.
  2. Put the almond powder, soy milk, water, sugar and almond extract into a saucepan and bring this to boil. Once at the boil allow to simmer for 45 minutes but stir occasionally while simmering to make sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan.
  3. After the 45 minutes pass the mixture through a sieve as we don’t want any lumps of almond. After passing though allow the mixture to cool down a little. Soften the gelatine and stir this into the cooled mixture. Cooling the mixture down before adding the gelatine is essential otherwise the gelatine would be destroyed at a high temperature.
  4. Once you have added gelatine allow the mixture to cool down until the dish is warm but not hot. At this moment you can prepare the glasses for pouring the mixture into.
  5. In the glass or dish that you choose to use, place fresh strawberries at the bottom and cover this with strawberry coulis. This should fill about one fifth of the glass/dish. Being gentle, cover the strawberry coulis with the almond tofu mixture until about 4/5ths of the glass are filled. Leave in a fridge until it has set (this should take about 1 hour but I left it overnight).
  6. Once the dessert has set place fresh strawberries on top and it’s ready to serve. I added blackberries for extra garnish but this is entirely optional.

 

Big Breasts Food – Green Papaya with Pork Rib Soup

So recently I haven’t updated my blog and for a really good reason. I broke a finger and more specifically my ring finger. Recently at work we’ve been really busy at work and a few people have called in sick so we’ve been super busy and I was at work one day in a rush and I banged my ring finger on a fridge door. My finger was bleeding a bit but really swelled up so I was worried I damaged the tendons in my finger.

Chris especially but also myself are the kind of people where if it hurts on the day we kind of leave injuries but if it’s still hurting two weeks later we seek medical advice. So the one weekend Chris hired a car and drove me to hospital where they x-rayed it and found I broke my finger. I got seen to fairly quickly but as usual the NHS didn’t want to do anything apart from give me a tiny piece of tape to tape my fingers together for a day or two.

Two weeks later we went back to hospital where we had a really long wait (this is very normal for the NHS) and I was told my the doctor I would have to live with a “wonky” finger (the tip of my ring finger isn’t straight). The doctor then said “you will never be a hand model” and builders have loads of wonky fingers. Hello! I’m a woman! Not a builder! Thanks!

They also didn’t give me any painkillers. In Taiwan you get sympathetic treatment all the time and the doctor will give you painkillers if you need them. Essentially our health care system is more humane. Doctors in Taiwan also aren’t sarcastic. They treat you effectively and compassionately.

broken chef finger
broken chef finger

Anyway, on with a recipe…

Green Papaya with Pork Rib Soup

A long time ago Taiwanese people were crazy about this soup. In Taiwan we believe green papaya will help young women grow larger breasts so as you can imagine loads of young girls ate green papaya thinking it will grow them big breasts so they will have a more beautiful curved body. Boys as you can imagine encouraged girls to eat green papaya so they would have bigger breasts to admire lol.

I tried eating this myself to see if I can enhance my boobs but I think I’ve grown too old for this to work, shame! But no matter if this grow big breasts or not soup is very important for one’s daily diet as it helps our bodies to hydrate and clean it.

green papaya with pork rib soup
green papaya

 

Green Papaya with Pork Rib Soup

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 small green papaya available in Chinese supermarkets
  • 400 g pork ribs diced
  • 2 small ginger
  • 1 small carrot for garnish
  • water

Instructions

  1. Boil a pot of water and blanch the pork ribs. This will clean the ribs and remove any dirt from the bones. You’ll see the excess dirt, for example blood, float on top of the water. Once you see this wash the ribs under cold water.
  2. Put the ribs back into the pot along with the ginger and around 2 litres of cold water and boil it. Once it reaches the boil reduce heat and simmer for 1.5 hours.
  3. Peel and remove the seeds from the green papaya. Dice the papaya and for the carrots you can use a ring cutter to cut it into a flower shape (if you wish to do so).
  4. Put the papaya into the pot and cook with the ribs until the papaya has softened. Season the soup with salt and white pepper powder. Once the papaya is soft this dish is ready to serve.

 

Cooked Rice with Bak Choy and Gammon

When we were in Taipei one of my favourite restaurants is Kao Chi. Kao Chi serves really delicious Shanghai cuisine and one of the dishes we ordered was this really delicious Cooked Rice with Bak Choy, Chinese ham and mushroom.

So for this recipe I decided to make something very similar. The main difference between the dish at Kao Chi and my recipe is I had to use smoked gammon instead of Chinese ham as I can’t find Chinese ham here in the UK. I also used chestnut mushroom instead of the tinned mushroom that they used (I prefer the taste of chestnut mushroom).

Normally Chris really dislikes bak choy, in fact he hates it usually, but he ate all of the bak choy in this dish which was a really big success for me. Finally, I can eat bak choy (one of my favourite vegetables).

Credit: All photos were taken by Chris at: http://www.chrisradleyphotography.com

cooked rice with bak choy and gammon

 

Cooked Rice with Bak Choy and Gammon

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups rice
  • 200 g gammon steak
  • 300 g bak choy
  • 100 g chestnut mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Chop bak choy finely and remove the skin from the gammon steak. Cut the gammon steak into really small dices.
  2. Cut the mushroom into small dices as well.
  3. Heat up a wok with 1 tablespoon of oil. Saute the bak choy with garlic until the bak choy is cooked. Leave aside once it is cooked.
  4. Put the rice into a rice cooker with the gammon steak, mushrooms and 1 tablespoon of oil. Also use the juice that came out of the bak choy. Add a little more than 2 cups of water to cook everything.
  5. After the rice has cooked add the bak choy into the rice and mix evenly. Cover the rice cooker with the lid and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
  6. The dish is now ready to serve.

Recipe Notes

Tip for cooking Eastern food: Buy a rice cooker. Most of my friends and colleagues in the UK assume we boil rice in the East but most people use rice cookers. They can be bought as cheaply as £15, last ages and cook rice perfectly every time. Rice cookers can be used from cooking food, steaming food, making soup, steaming meat and many other things, all for £15 upwards!