Lion Head Meatballs

Lynn Dine


A recipe I found on the Cooking Channel by Ching-He Huang. Here is what is stated about the dish: "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."


★★★★★ 1 vote

30 Min
20 Min
Stove Top



  • 1 1/8 lb
    ground beef
  • 1/4 c
    shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 4 clove
    garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 sprig(s)
    spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1
    egg, beaten
  • 2 Tbsp
    freshly grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp
    light soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp
    toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp
  • 1/2 tsp
    sea salt
  • 1 pinch
    freshly cracked white pepper

  • 3 1/2 oz
    groundnut oil ( peanut)
  • 2 1/2 c
    vegetable stock
  • 11 oz
    chinese cabbage, quartered lengthwise from leaf to stem end
  • 3
    dried chinese mushrooms, porcini mushrooms or shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp
    light soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp
    cornstarch, blended with 2 tablespoons cold water, optional
  • ·
    sea salt and freshly cracked white pepper, to taste
  • 2 large
    spring onions (green), sliced

How to Make Lion Head Meatballs


  1. For the meatballs:
    Put the ground beef, rice wine, garlic, spring onions, egg, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch, salt, and white pepper into a large bowl to combine, stirring in the same direction.

    Using wet hands, scoop a large mound of the ground meat mixture, and mold it into a ball. The size should be a little larger than a golf ball. Transfer the meatball to a plate and repeat with the remaining mixture.
  2. For the assembly:
    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 to 5 minutes, or until browned.
  3. Pour all but 2 tablespoons of oil into a heat-proof bowl. Add the vegetable stock to the pan. Arrange the quarters of Chinese cabbage around the meatballs, curving them lengthwise around the sides of the pan, then add the mushrooms, and soy sauce. Bring everything to a boil. Cover the pan, reduce its heat, and cook gently for 15 minutes. Add the blended cornstarch slurry, if using, and stir until the sauce thickens.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat, and season with salt, and white pepper, to taste, and sprinkle over the spring onion slices. Transfer the dish to a warm serving platter, and serve immediately. Cook's Note: Steamed or glutinous rice is a perfect accompaniment to this dish.

Printable Recipe Card

About Lion Head Meatballs

Course/Dish: Meat Appetizers
Main Ingredient: Beef
Regional Style: Chinese

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