This dish was said to be an imperial dish that the emperor ate. It is called Lion Head meatballs because, once cooked, the meatballs are surrounded by Chinese cabbage, and the meatball is said to resemble the head of the lion, while the long pieces of cabbage resemble the ‘mane’ of the lion.
My mother can be quite superstitious and when she cooked this dish when I was younger she told us that we would be as strong as lions if we ate it. It worked. This is something I plan to cook and share if I have children one day.
Serve with steamed rice, as the rice helps to soak up the juices of the broth.... Read more.
Put all the ingredients for the meatballs into a large bowl and stir to combine, stirring in the same direction.
Using wetted hands, take a large mound of the minced meat mixture and mould into a ball a little larger than a golf ball. Place on a plate and repeat with the remaining mixture.
Pour the groundnut oil into a large deep pan and heat over a high heat. Using a metal ladle, carefully lower each meatball into the oil and spoon some of the oil over the meatballs. Cook for 4–5 minutes until browned.
Pour all but 2 tablespoons of oil out into a heatproof bowl. Add the stock to the pan. Arrange the slices of Chinese cabbage around the meatballs, curving them around the sides of the pan lengthways, then add the mushrooms and soy sauce and bring to the boil. Cover the pan, reduce the heat and cook gently for 15 minutes. Add the blended cornflour, if using, and stir until thickened.
Take off the heat, season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the spring onions. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately.
Steamed or glutinous rice is a perfect accompaniment to this dish.
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