July 5, 2014

Lion's Head Meatball 紅燒獅子頭

braised, chinese, Lion's Head Meatball, meatball, recipe, shanghai, shanghainese, 上海, 獅子頭, 紅燒, pork
By Published: 2014-07-05
Roarrrrr!!  Meatball lovers alert!  Interested in  a light wondrously fluffy tender deliciously tasty pork meatball just dripping with luscious sauce?  Well, maybe you'd be surprised to know that this famous Shanghai style Chinese meatball, the Lion's Head Meatball, or 紅燒獅子頭, can probably knock the socks off of its meatball competitors!  The key to this extraordinary Chinese meatball's goodness, I think, is in it's wonderful fluffiness.  Tender tasty almost falling apart lusciousness as you pick a bit of meatball up with your chopsticks.  Yum, yum!

braised, chinese, Lion's Head Meatball, meatball, recipe, shanghai, shanghainese, 上海, 獅子頭, 紅燒, pork

The rip roaring name for this Lion's Head Meatball comes courtesy of a long ago person in China who cleverly thought that, hey, this dish kinda looks like a lion's proud head (the meatball) surrounded by his beautifully flowing mane (the vegetables).  
We used baby Bok Choy in our dish this time but you're really supposed to used Napa Cabbage in order to get that perfect 'mane-y' kind of look.  I'm not surprised by the name, actually, knowing how the Chinese love and respect the splendid lion, the king of animals.  Really, if you look around, the chinese lions are everywhere, why not in our foods?

Lion at the Forbidden Palace

My grandma used to make this with breadcrumbs that she crushed up a bit of toast for.  But we have found that we don't need the breadcrumbs, that the real key to this dish is that you need to gently fry the meatballs to a nice golden brown before you cook 'em in a wonderfully tasty rice wine sauce.  If you do this correctly you will find you can have the most incredibly light, tasty and fluffy meatballs. Try our secret to the famously fluffy and tasty Lion's Head Meatball, see if you don't agree!

braised, chinese, Lion's Head Meatball, meatball, recipe, shanghai, shanghainese, 上海, 獅子頭, 紅燒, pork

Lion's Head Meatball  Recipe  紅燒獅子頭
(Prep time: 15 mins  Cook time: 1 hour 5 mins)


1 lb ground fatty pork (440g)
10 baby bok choy (or 2-3 leaves napa cabbage, cut to strips)
1 1/2 tbsp Shao Hsing Rice Wine
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp oil
2 tsp potato starch (or cornstarch)
1 spring onion, cut to 1" lengths
1 tbsp ginger, cut to matchsticks
1 cup Shao Hsing Rice Wine
2 cups chicken broth


Mix pork with rice wine, salt, light and dark soy, sesame oil, sugar, stirring in one direction only until the mixture comes together as a paste.  Let marinate for 15 minutes.  Stir (again in one direction) the oil and starch in just before frying.

Heat up wok to medium high heat.  Add 1 tbsp oil to the hot wok, quickly form the meat mixture into 3 large meatballs, and then carefully fry the meatballs until golden brown all around.  (Key here is browned all around!)  Add a splash more of oil if needed and then toss in spring onion and ginger and stir fry for 15 seconds until fragrant.  If using Napa cabbage, add to your pot now, underneath the meatballs.  Add rice wine and chicken broth. (Make sure stock covers the meatballs.)  Cover the pot.  Once the stock boils, lower heat to lowest possible heat and cook covered for one hour.  Check occasionally and top up stock as needed.    Ten minutes before time is up, add your bok choy (if using) and cover.  To serve arrange the vegetables in plate first, then nestle the meatballs on top.  Serve hot.

Hop you enjoy our delicious Lion's Head Meatballs!

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