Lion's Head

READY IN: 2hrs
Recipe by Hey Jude

This is called Lion's Head because the meatballs surrounded by bok choy look like a male lion's head with a mane. This is Chinese 'comfort food'. I like to make this on lazy winter Sunday afternoons while watching old movies on TV. When served over steamed rice, this becomes a one-dish meal. This is another of Madame Wong's terrific recipes and comes from the Yangchow area of China.

Top Review by JMigs0

I didn't actually use this recipe but from memory the measurements of ingredients are approximate to the recipe I use. The only other staple ingredient I use is pepper. It is a total comfort food, and I'll tell you how to make it really healthy too! After I boast some more about it... I just love this dish, my grandma makes it the best, I'm still trying my best to copy hers. My kids love this dish as well. It's always a sure bet to get both my kids to eat their veggies (5yr & 3yr old). A couple of hints and variations: You can sub bok choy with savoy cabbage or napa cabbage, which I've done. My favorite is the napa cabbage, it gives the soup a bit of sweetness when you cook it until it's no longer crunchy (how my family always cooks it) and soaks up tons of the flavor from the broth (yum, that's why my kids love it so)! I like to use light colored soy sauce (not light sodium), the flavor is better. And for a healthier twist, (and if you have the time) don't fry it (skip steps 11-20). Instead of searing the outside, just toss the meatballs on top of a bed of the cabbage, cover with more cabbage, cover with stock and seasonings and cook on the lowest setting for several hours (at least 3, the longer the better) so use your crock pot if you have one. The result is tender, melt in your mouth meatballs! A couple ways to make it even more tasty: soak 3-4 dried shitake mushrooms in the broth until soft, squeeze out the excess liquid into broth and mince the mushrooms and add to the ground meat mixture then make the meatballs. Add some minced dried tiny shrimp (soaked in water, but throw this water away) use only about a tablespoon full minced. To add some calcium I use 1/3 package of firm tofu, (the firmer the more calcium) diced and added to the mixture. If you add tofu, make sure to adjust the seasoning (a bit more salt and pepper and some more soy sauce). You don't have to make 4 large meatballs, for everyday home dishes we usually make smaller meatballs (about 8 or more for 1 pound).

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Pound ginger and green onion with back of knife or cleaver.
  2. Put into a bowl with the water.
  3. Set aside 10 minutes.
  4. Strain green onion and ginger out of the water, reserving water.
  5. Put ground pork into a bowl.
  6. Add green onion and ginger water, sherry, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 Tablespoon cornstarch.
  7. Mix well with your hand in one direction.
  8. Form meat mixture into 4 large balls.
  9. Using your hands, lightly coat balls with dissolved cornstarch.
  10. Heat 4 tablespoons peanut oil in a wok.
  11. Fry balls one at a time until they are brown.
  12. Baste with hot oil to facilitate browning.
  13. Remove carefully and set aside.
  14. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the wok.
  15. Stir-fry bok choy for 2 minutes.
  16. Place meatballs on top of fried bok choy.
  17. Add 2 tablespoons soy sauce and stock.
  18. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  19. Add sugar.
  20. Bring to boil for 2 minutes.
  21. If the gravy is too watery, thicken with a little cornstarch dissolved in cold water.
  22. Serve over steamed rice.

Join the Conversation

  • all
  • reviews
  • tweaks
  • q & a