It’s getting cold by the day. A month ago I was wearing short sleeves with a thin cardigan. A couple of weeks ago I was wearing short sleeves with thick woolly jumper. Today I was wearing long sleeves with winter coat completed with warm scarf! Needless to say winter’s here and autumn had been and gone. This is an exciting time in the kitchen as we seem to fully embrace ourselves with burn-your-tongue-to-ashes stews and did-I-just-swallow-a-fire-bomb warm spices. But, Chinese always has a subtle way of doing things. And this time I’d like to introduce you to a gentle nuturiing winter dish, Soy Braised Lion’s Head.
This is a typical Eastern (think Shanghai) Chinese dish. And don’t be alarmed. It does NOT contain traces of lions. It really is just a fancy name for oversized meatballs made of mince pork (mixed with a few other things, of course), braised in a broth. You can fluff the meatballs up a bit so that they look more of a mane, but to be honest I’ve never seen any meatballs looking anything like a lion’s head. But hey, it’s a good name and I’m not going to change it. I like my lion heads fried before braising them, but if you’re on a straightly healthy diet, you can just steam or boil them. You can also put in different vegetables in the pot. It is, I suppose, a Chinese version of a chicken dumpling soup type comfort food.
- 300g mince pork
- 3 water chestnuts (drained and finely chopped)
- 1 egg
- ½ tbsp cornflour
- a pinch of ground white pepper
- a pinch of salt
- ½ tsp of Shaoxing rice wine
- ½ tbsp of water
- 2 spring onions (finely chopped)
- a handful of rice vermicelli (optional)
- 3 chinese dried mushrooms, soaked - reserve the liquid (or Shitaki mushrooms)
- ½ Chinese leaves (or iceberg lettuce)
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- ¼ tsp of salt
- a pinch of white ground pepper
- 1 tbsp of sugar
- Mix all the meatball ingredients together, make sure all ingredients are combined evenly.
- Shape into 3 BIG meatballs. Give the meatballs a thin coating of cornflour.
- Fry the meatballs in medium heat (about 150'C) hot oil. Drain and set aside.
- In a casserole, lay half the leaves at the bottom then put all the sauce and seasoning in.
- Pour the mushroom soaking water in and if neccessary, pour some water in to cover up to half the height of your meatballs.
- Then lay the meatballs and mushrooms on top, finally complete with the rest of the leaves.
- Bring to the boil, then turn the heat to low, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
- Give it a stir and cover again, cook for another 15 minutes. Add the rice vermicelli and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Serve in the casserole with steaming hot rice.
This would be what I really really want on a cold day when you need a quick pick-me-up. The meatballs are very well received with the boys! Whereas I love the soft, full of flavour vegetables and rice vermicelli.