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+ servings
Pork Meatballs

Chinese Lion’s Head Braised Meatball

Exotic Lion’s Head Meatballs served in a dark sauce are representative of classic Huaiyang cuisine. Whether stewed or braised, the heavenly aroma and delicious taste of these meatballs will have your family begging for more!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Servings 2


  • 500 g pork
  • 125 g peeled chestnuts If not available you can use canned water chestnuts; the taste and flavor are very similar.
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger 1 x 10g piece
  • 25 g chopped green onions
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon cooking wine
  • water starch: 3 teaspoons tapioca starch can replace with potato starch mixed with 3 teaspoons of water
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Braised Sauce:

  • 2 ½ tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 ½ tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons  cooking wine
  • 4 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 12 g ginger, sliced
  • 50 g green onions cut into sections
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • large Chinese cabbage leaves


  • The first step is to make the lion’s head.
  • The pork should be diced to get the best flavor from the meat. Cut the pork into 4-5 slices (freezing for 3 hours makes it easier to cut) and then dice into 0.5 cm cubes.
  • Keep the slices you are not dicing yet in the refrigerator until you are ready to cut those or they will thaw too quickly.
  • Once the pork is diced, chop it a few more times, but not too much – you do not want a minced consistency. This extra chopping just makes it easier to mix.
  • The consistency of the diced and chopped pork should still look quite coarse.
  • Dice the water chestnuts into roughly 3-4 mm pieces.
  • In a large bowl, mix the pork, chopped green onions, grated ginger, cooking wine and salt.
  • Add the egg, and water starch mixture.
  • With a metal spoon or chopsticks mix rapidly in one direction. As you do so, you will gradually feel more resistance which means the mixture is strengthening.
  • Once the ingredients are well combined, add the chopped water chestnuts and stir in. At this point, the mixture for the lion’s head is ready.
  • Divide it into four equal portions and place onto a plate in preparation for cooking.
  • Grab one of the portions (If you are using gloves, dip them in the water), and toss and pat it from one hand to the other 60- 100 times to let the air out and shape it into a tight ball.
  • The second step is to fry the lion’s head. Take a small non-stick pan, and pour in enough vegetable oil to completely cover the meatballs, but far enough from the pot’s rim to not flow over when cooking. Heat the oil to 130 degrees Celsius. Here again, I strongly recommended that you buy a digital thermometer; they are not expensive and will save you a lot of guess work.
  • Dip a metal spoon big enough to hold one lion’s head, into the oil to coat. Then, place one lion’s head onto the spoon, and gently lower it into the hot oil.
  • Toggle the lion’s head around gently every 1-2 minutes, to ensure it cooks evenly. When the meatball is golden, remove and wait for the oil to reach the desired temperature before frying the next one. Deep frying the lion’s head adds aroma that stewing does not achieve.
  • You can also shallow fry, which saves on gas and time by frying all four together, however, the lion’s heads will flatten, and you run the risk of them falling apart. The buoyancy of deep frying gives support to the lion’s head, ensuring it maintains its shape, and the heat is more uniform.
  • The third step is to braise the lion heads. Take a suitably sized deep pot that will fit the four lion heads, (about 18 or 20 cm diameter pot).
  • A casserole, stainless steel or cast-iron pot will do, so long as it has a good thick base to allow even cooking. Add both the soy sauces, oyster sauce, sugar, cooking wine, sliced ginger, green onion pieces and salt to the pan.
  • Place the lion heads at the bottom of the pot, and add enough hot water to almost cover.
  • Cover the lion heads with three large Chinese cabbage leaves. Heat to the boil and then simmer on low for two and a half hours.
  • Two and a half hours later, remove the cabbage leaves, and serve the lion heads into a deep plate or bowl. Pour the sauce over and enjoy!