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Chinese Lion’s Head Meatballs

Finished Lions Head Casserole 2

Last week was the Mid Autumn Festival, the Chinese holiday for celebrating the fall harvest via moon gazing and eating mooncake.  The holiday was totally off my radar until I saw a Facebook picture of mooncake posted by my cousin on Thursday!  I scrambled to buy mooncake that weekend but it was too late – all the good stuff was already gone.  Sniff. 

Meatball prep

I was feeling a little sad from missing out on the mooncake so I decided to try and make something that would remind me of growing up.

Meatball Meatball Soak

I had come across a recipe for Chinese Lion’s Head Meatballs (they’re called lion’s head because the cabbage looks like a lion’s mane) on a blog I read a few months ago and flagged it – now was the right time to bust it out.

Searing Meatballs
Sauteed Cabbage

This recipe actually turned out to be easier than I thought, and it tasted so good!  The flavors totally brought me back to when I was 11 years old, eating dinner at the kitchen table.  Mission accomplished!  Mooncake cravings be gone.

Braising Meatballs 2 Finished Lions Head Casserole


4.0 from 1 reviews
Chinese Lion's Head Meatballs
Prep time (for beginners): 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp sliced scallions
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¾ tsp rice wine
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • ½ Tbsp corn starch
  • 1 lb ground pork
Meatball Seasoning
  • 3 tsp soy sauce
  • 3 tsp water
  • 3 tsp cornstarch
Other Ingredients
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 head of napa cabbage
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp salt
Forming the Meatballs:
  1. Combine all the ingredients in the meatball mixture, except for the ground pork, in a large bowl. Mix until all the ingredients are combined.
  2. Add the ground pork and knead until the pork is incorporated with the other ingredients.
  3. Form the meatballs by taking a small handful of the mix and throwing it between your hands a few times. The meatballs will be a little loose and that's ok.
Seasoning the Meatballs:
  1. Combine the ingredients in the meatball seasoning in a small bowl and mix until everything is incorporated.
  2. Season each meatball by placing it in the seasoning mixture. Make sure both sides of each meatball are coated with the mixture.
Cooking the Meatballs:
  1. Spray a skillet with the cooking spray and place over medium-high heat.
  2. Sear the meatballs in the skillet until the sides are browned, about 20 seconds on each side. The meatballs will still be uncooked on the inside.
  3. Transfer the meatballs to a clean plate and set aside.
Preparing the Cabbage:
  1. Set aside 4-5 whole cabbage leaves.
  2. Slice remaining cabbage into 2 inch slices.
  3. Spray a wok or large pan with the cooking spray and place over medium high heat.
  4. Sautee the sliced cabbage in the wok until the cabbage is tender, about 5 minutes.
Putting it all Together:
  1. Transfer the sautéed cabbage, plus the liquid the cabbage released during cooking, into a large pot.
  2. Place the seared meatballs on top of the sautéed cabbage.
  3. Place the whole cabbage leaves over the meatballs.
  4. Pour 1 Tbsp of soy sauce and 1 Tbsp of salt over the whole cabbage leaves.
  5. Cover the pot and let simmer for 1 hour.
Adapted from Tiny Urban Kitchen's recipe for Lion's Head Casserole


One Response to “Chinese Lion’s Head Meatballs”

  1. bigsea says:

    Good. This is one of my hometown cuisine.

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