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They call it Lion's Head because the meatballs are ye big with manes of soft, tender napa cabbage...looking like a lion. Seriously, in Shanghai, the meatballs are the size of a tennis ball - let's call that a quarter pounder meatball.

Slowly braise or steam to get a tender, melt-in-your-mouth meatballs. If you have a small claypot, braise the meatballs in the claypot and serve directly from it.

Prep time:
Cook time:
Servings: 4


Cost per serving $1.37 view details


  1. Preparing the meatballs: Mix together the meatball ingredients (pork, egg white, chopped green onions, water chestnuts, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, shaoxing wine, cornstarch, salt and pepper.) Place the mixture into the freezer and chill 5 minutes.
  2. Form meatballs by hand into 2-inch rounds. Dust lightly with cornstarch. Set on a baking tray. You should have about 8 meatballs. (For a classic serving, the meatballs should be the size of a tennis ball, in that case, you should get 4 meatballs).
  3. Browning the meatballs: Heat about ½ inch of canola oil in a large sauté pan. Brown the meatballs over medium-high heat, in batches, until golden brown on all sides. Set aside.
  4. Preparing the sauce: Using the same pan, remove all but 2 tablespoons oil. Heat on high, add ginger and garlic. Fry for 10 seconds. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil, then add remaining sauce ingredients (Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, sugar and salt). Pour the chicken stock mixture over the meatballs.
  5. Slow-cooking the meatballs: Gently transfer the meatballs into the pan. Add more stock if needed to cover the meatballs entirely. Cover and simmer (or steamed or baked 400°F) for 20 minutes.
  6. Scatter the cabbage on top and continue simmering for another 20 minutes. The sauce should be reduced to half.
  7. If you prefer a thicker sauce, transfer the sauce into a small sauce pan and reduce the sauce further to a nappe consistency, or add the cornstarch and water slurry to thicken.
  8. Finish with sesame oil.


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Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving %DV
Serving Size 320g
Recipe makes 4 servings
Calories 682  
Calories from Fat 475 70%
Total Fat 53.29g 67%
Saturated Fat 11.24g 45%
Trans Fat 0.11g  
Cholesterol 82mg 27%
Sodium 1868mg 78%
Potassium 539mg 15%
Total Carbs 26.86g 7%
Dietary Fiber 1.0g 3%
Sugars 1.41g 1%
Protein 21.75g 35%
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  • Barbara Ann Day
    April 18, 2009
    I am looking forward to trying this recipe! My husband and I are both big fans of Chinese food and we cook chinese dishes almost every week.

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