I thought this would be an appropriate post given it’s been freezing cold in the Bay Area. I must admit I am getting soft. Growing up in eastern Canada, the weather here would be worthy of shorts and a t-shirt. Okay, maybe jeans and a t-shirt but definitely no jacket.
I cheated a bit as I used chicken stock versus a chicken/pork/ham stock that my aunt used in her recipe. But it still tasted pretty good and saved me a bit of money. Great comfort food on a chilly evening.
Adapted Lion’s Head recipe from my aunt’s Yan-Kit’s Classic Chinese Cookbook.
1 lb Chinese celery cabbage/Napa cabbage
9 water chestnuts, fresh peeled or canned drained
1 lb pork butt or shoulder (or ground pork if time is an issue)
3 tbsp water
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp thick soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1 tsp brown sugar
2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
2 to 2 1/2 tbsp water
3 tbsp canola oil
1 C stock
Take the cabbage and cut each cabbage leaf crosswise into 2″ pieces. Set aside.
Using a sharp knife, peel the chestnuts and mince. Set aside.
If using a whole piece of pork, chop by hand using a cleaver. If pressed for time, use ground pork. Place pork in large bowl.
Stir in water and continue to stir in same direction for a minute or two until texture is smooth. Pick up pork and thrown back into bowl about 20 times. The stirring and throwing action make the pork light and tender.
Add salt to the pork.
Add soy sauce.
Add cooking wine.
Add brown sugar.
Mix all ingredients in well.
Stir in the water chestnuts.
Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping them into thick round balls each of which represents a lion’s head.
In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and water into a thin paste. Roll the lion’s heads in the paste to coat all over.
Heat a wok over medium-high heat. Add the oil.
Add the lions’ heads to wok. Brown each side about 2 minutes each or until golden brown in color.
Transfer to a plate, leaving the oil in the wok.
Add the cabbage pieces and stir-fry for about 1 to 2 minutes to cook partially and reduce their bulk.
Transfer half the cabbage to line the bottom of a casserole.
Place the lions heads on tops and cover them with the remaining cabbage.
Add the stock to casserole.
Bring the casserole to a boil on top of stove. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 2 hours.
After the long simmer, Lion’s head and cabbage is served!