Lion’s Head Meatballs 紅燒獅子頭

A Shanghai specialty, Lion’s Head meatballs are made of simple, humble ingredients—namely pork and vegetable.  There are two versions of this dish in China. One is served in a rich, dark brown sauce; the other in a lighter broth with vermicelli noodles.  This is a well-known holiday recipe for example Chinese New Year. The round shape of the meatball symbolizes “Union” or “Together”.  Basically this is large fried Chinese meatballs. And we are having a braised version today.

The traditional recipe calls for 60% lean pork and 40% pork fat.  For health reason, I have modified the recipe using pork should butt roast with 90% lean pork and only 10% pork fat.  In addition I am a big fan of good quality dry shrimp from the Louisiana region.  I bought some dry shrimps from the San Francisco Chinatown recently so I am using it today.   In addition I am using ‘Yiu Chou, 油菜” instead of the long Napa cabbage because it is not in season yet.

 

Note:

  • Save the water you use to re-hydrate dry shrimp
  • Use a pair of bamboo chop stick to mix the minced pork
  • Use a pair of meat cleaver to chop your own minced pork (Don’t buy ground pork from the market)
Braised Meat Ball with Seasonal Vegetable in a savoury brown sauce (Lion's Head meatballs) 紅燒獅子頭
Braised Meat Ball with Seasonal Vegetable in a savoury brown sauce (Lion’s Head meatballs)
紅燒獅子頭

Ingredients:

Pork should butt roast                                       1 lb (remove outer layer fat)

Dry shrimp                                                            1/4 cup (soak in water for 4 hours)

Yiu Chou, 油菜                                                     1 lb

Garlic                                                                     6 pieces

Fresh ginger                                                         8 pieces

Flour                                                                     1 cup

 

Marinade:

Oyster sauce                                                       1 tablespoon

Light soy sauce                                                1 tablespoon

Kosher salt                                                       1 teaspoon

White pepper                                                  1/4 teaspoon

Shaoxing (Yellow) wine                                 1 tablespoon

Fish sauce                                                        1 tablespoon

White sugar                                                     1 teaspoon

Cornstarch water                                           2 teaspoons of cornstarch mix with 4 teaspoons of water

Oil                                                                     6 cups

 

Braising brown sauce:

Chicken stock                                            2 cups (unsalted)

Oyster sauce                                             1 tablespoon

Light soy sauce                                         1 tablespoon

Dark soy sauce                                          2 tablespoon

Rock sugar 冰糖                                       1 piece (about 1 tablespoon)

Shaoxing (Yellow) wine                           4 tablespoons

Garlic/Fresh ginger                                  6 pieces

Cornstarch water                                     2 teaspoons of cornstarch mix with 4 teaspoons of water

(To set aside for thickening  the sauce at the end)

 

Method:

Using two cleavers to chop the pork shoulder roast to fine texture.  Place the finely chopped re-hydrated dry shrimp with the minced pork in a large mixing bowl.   Return the shrimp water to the mixing bowl along  with the rest of the marinades.   Use a pair of bamboo chop stick to mix the minced pork to a gluey texture.

Dust both hands with flour and shape the minced pork to a large meat ball and duct the meat ball with more flour to avoid sticking.

Heat oil to medium high (340F) and place meat balls carefully in hot oil for three to four minutes till firm.

Remove meat balls from oil.  Heat up oil in a separate pot and put in garlic and ginger.  Splash the heated garlic/ginger with Shaoxing (Yellow) wine.  Once the alcohol has evaporated, add two cups of chicken stock and the rest of the seasonings.  Return the meat balls to the sauce and turn heat down to medium low.  Braise for 45 minutes.

Remove meat balls from sauce after 45 minutes.  Turn heat up to medium high and reduce sauce by 1/4.  Add cornstarch water to thicken sauce.

Blanch the Yiu Chou in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute.  Drain water and set aside.

Heat up wok and add two tablespoons of oil.  Once the oil is hot enough, put in garlic/ginger.   Place yiu chou in wok and do a quick stir fry.  Splash Shaoxing (Yellow) wine to enhance the taste.

Arrange the yiu chou on a large serving plate and put the already braised meat balls on the vegetable.  Pour the already thickened sauce on top of the meat balls before serving.  Garnish with chopped green onion and cilantro.

Soak dry shrimp in water for 4 hours
Soak dry shrimp in water for 4 hours
Re-hydrated dry shrimp
Re-hydrated dry shrimp
Chop dry shrimp to small pieces
Chop dry shrimp to small pieces
Pork should butt roast in small chunks
Pork should butt roast in small chunks
Hand chop pork with two cleavers
Hand chop pork with two cleavers
Mix minced pork and dry shrimp with two chop sticks to a gluey texture
Mix minced pork and dry shrimp with two chop sticks to a gluey texture
Shape the minced meat to a large size ball and duct with flour to avoid sticking
Shape the minced meat to a large size ball and duct with flour to avoid sticking
Place meat balls in hot oil for five minutes till firm
Place meat balls in hot oil for five minutes till firm
Place meat balls in hot oil for five minutes till firm
Place meat balls in hot oil for five minutes till firm
Remove meat balls from oil ans set aside
Remove meat balls from oil ans set aside
Add ginger and garlic with some oil in a pot
Add ginger and garlic with some oil in a pot
Add chicken stock and seasonings, braise the meat balls for 45 minutes
Add chicken stock and seasonings, braise the meat balls for 45 minutes
Yiu Chou, 油菜
Yiu Chou, 油菜
Garlic and ginger in wok for stir fry
Garlic and ginger in wok for stir fry
Stir fried Yiu Chou, 油菜
Stir fried Yiu Chou, 油菜
Braised Meat Ball with Seasonal Vegetable in a savoury brown sauce (Lion's Head meatballs) 紅燒獅子頭
Braised Meat Ball with Seasonal Vegetable in a savoury brown sauce (Lion’s Head meatballs)
紅燒獅子頭

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Karen says:

    Don’t be afraid to eat fat. Newer studies have revealed that it is a myth that fat makes one fat or that fat is unhealthy. It is sugar and carbohydrates that people should think twice before eating.

    1. eddyskitchen says:

      I used to eat fried pork fat with soy sauce in plain rice three times a day when I was much younger. There is nothing tastes better in life than pork fat and salt! However I am afraid to turn into “三高老人 ” “three high old man”, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and high cholestorol! My blood lab results are still acceptable at the moment and I just prefer to keep it that way so I can eat good foods for a few more years!

      1. Karen says:

        The problem here is that you ate fried pork fat with soy sauce (carb) with rice (carb) – carbs is the cause of high blood pressure and insulin spike. Don’t fear cholestorol, your body produces it naturally. Read up on Ketogenic Lifestyle

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s