I discovered this recipe in one of Ching He Huang's book, Chinese food made Easy. I think I own all her books now, and recommend them highly (and I have no commercial interest there!). I love that she promotes healthy traditional dishes, accessible and very Chinese. I am lucky that I can source all the ingredients so easily as I live next to chinatown. All the ingredients are already in my cupboard.
It a very traditional, home type of food, which is very healthy, tasty and so easy to make.
My HongKong friend remembers the dish from her childhood, named so because of the ressemblance with lion's heads, the meatballs being the head and the cabbage the mane, what a great way to entice kids into eating it - not that they need so much enticement mind you as it tastes so great!
Since trying this dish, I made it many times, and it has become one of my favourites.
I adapted the recipe a little, as I tend to prefer bigger meatballs, use the whole leaves of the cabbage and I also felt the need to add some sichuan pepper for a kick.
Makes 4 big meatballs
- 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
- 750ml Water or preferably stock
- 4 dried chinese mushrooms
- 1 Chinese dismantled leaf by leaf
- 1 Tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon cornflour blended with 2 tablespoons cold water (optional)
- 2 large spring onions, sliced
- Sichuan pepper, a pinch
- sea salt and ground white Pepper
- steamed jasmine rice
For the meatballs
- 500gminced beef, pints water or vegetable stock
- 4 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 2 tables spoon freshly grated root stem ginger
- 1/2 pinch of sea salt
- 50ml Shaoshing rice wine or dry Sherry
- 2 Tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon cornflour
- 1 pinch of ground white pepper
1. Put all the ingredients for the meatballs into a large bowl and stir to combine.
Using wetted hands take a large mound of the mince mixture and mould into a ball slightly smaller than a baseball. Place on a Plate and repeat with the remaining mixture.
2. Pour the oil into a large deep pan on high heat. Place each meatball in the pan.
Turn very carefully with a big spatula when brown, and repeat until all sides are brown (the meat is sealed, not cooked).
3.Arrange the cabbage leaves curving them lengthway around the meatballs, like a nest. Add the stock, mushrooms and soy sauce and sichuan pepper and bring to the boil.
Cover the pan, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add the blended cornflour, stir until thickened.
4. Take off the heat. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with spring onion and serve with Jasmine rice