Lion’s Head Meatballs

We will be posting ahead of time today due to a group themed post from World in a Plate. What is World in a Plate?

World on a plate is a blogging cultural exchange. On the last Sunday of the month, bloggers from all over the world get together to interpret a food through the lens of their home country cooking. Each blogger will produce a wonderful dish featuring the food chosen that is typical of her/his home country and will tell us about the dish. For this month group post, we will be featuring meatballs. Please click on the link below to find out how meatballs are prepared in different parts of the world and here is my contribution, the Lion’s Head meatballs.

Lion’s head Meatballs is a dish that is made to depict Lions head so don’t freak out just yet as it’s made out of pork and not lions. This Eastern Chinese dish is made out of enormous pork meatballs stewed with vegetables. There are two versions: first, the plain one where meatballs are stewed or steamed with Napa cabbages and second, the red version where it is cooked with cabbage, bamboo shoots and/or tofu in a soy-sauce-based sauce. The minced meat used in this dish is the fatty variant giving it that unique gelatinous texture. The large meatball resembles lion’s head and the chinese cabbage as its mane. It originated from Jiangsu province and it became and a part of Shanghai cuisine with the influx of migrants during the late 19th to early 20th century.

A really unique meatball dish which was recently introduced to me here in New Zealand by one of my close Chinese friend. It is simple and a good variation to the common meatball dishes.

Ingredients (Meatballs)

700 g minced pork (30-35% fat)
1 egg
1 tbsp ginger paste
2 spring onions (white part), finely chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp cornstarch
white pepper

Ingredients (Sauce)

6 thin slices of ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 pcs star anise
2 spring onions (white part only)
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup Chinese cooking wine
4 cups chicken stock
peanut oil
1 tbsp cornstarch

Ingredients (Other)

6 pcs Chinese cabbage leaves, halved lengthwise
rice flour


  1. Place meatball ingredients in a bowl and mix them well. Once evenly mixed form into huge meatballs.
  2. Dust each meatball with rice flour then deep fry in batches until golden brown in colour. Set it aside.
  3. In a wok, add peanut oil then sautΓ© garlic, ginger and star anise.
  4. Add sugar and stir fry until it caramelizes.
  5. Pour stock, soy sauce and Chinese cooking wine then bring to a boil. Once boiling lower to simmering heat then add the meatballs. Simmer for 1 hour.
  6. Mix cornstarch with 3 tbsp water then pour it into the sauce to thicken.
  7. Blanch Chinese cabbage then wrap each meatball with a piece of Chinese cabbage. Place in a plate or bowl then pour the sauce on top.


22 Responses

  1. nors says:

    Freak out ako bro….. Kala ko nagkatay ka ng lion…. Masarap kaya talaga karne ng lion?

  2. rotinrice says:

    These huge meatballs will satisfy any meatball lover. They look really tasty! I know my boys will enjoy these. πŸ™‚

  3. PolaM says:

    huge meatballs can only be delicious! And they look great too!

  4. Hyosun Ro says:

    Hi Raymund – This looks great! With all that fat in the pork and deep frying, I am sure these meatballs taste amazing! I love the name of this as well. I am happy to meet you through World on a Plate.

  5. Just look at these meatballs.. they are definitely making me drool right now πŸ™‚

  6. Medeja says:

    Is it possible to substitute the Chinese cooking wine with rice vinegar or just white wine?

  7. That name sounds cool. I am intrigued by the ginger etc. in this recipe. That sounds so unique, and so flavorful! I already told Biren that the Asian versions of this dish make the European ones sound almost bland, but I guess it’s just another way of eating it, right? πŸ™‚

    • rsmacaalay says:

      True, also Asian food may look strong in taste because flavours used in Asian dishes are contrasting like honey and fish sauce or chilli and yoghurt unlike Western dishes which combines tastes that are similar like cream and eggs or tomato and wine.

  8. Kristy says:

    What a fun thing to participate in! And these do look like a fun way to make meatballs. I do love ginger. πŸ™‚

  9. Those are the most delicious meatballs I have ever seen.
    πŸ™‚ Mandy

  10. I was curious where you were going with the Lions head post title. Now I understand and see the deliciousness. πŸ™‚

  11. foodjaunts says:

    I’ve actually got Lion’s Head Meatballs on my to-try recipe list πŸ™‚ Glad to know how fantastic they are

  12. These look delicious!! I’ve never heard of lion’s head meatballs, but now I must try them. So happy to be part of this wonderful group with you πŸ˜€

  13. I’ve never heard of them, but they sound interesting!

  14. sara says:

    These are great – glad they are pork and not lion. πŸ˜€ Very cute idea with the lettuce as the mane – fun!

  15. peachkins says:

    This looks delicious!
    Do you host world on a plate????

  16. samology says:

    Raymund!! That’s such a delicious looking dish! Wow!! I love meatballs and this one is no exception!!

  17. Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    Raymund, your meatballs look so delicious! Look at the luster/glaze on the meatballs… YUM!

  18. I am liking the flavours in these meatballs and in the sauce!

  19. Love the presentation in the small cabbage baskets! Awesome read. will try this soon!

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