Saturday, October 15, 2005

Lion's head meatballs

We tried this for dinner tonight and it was a huge hit. Originally a Shanghai dish the oversized pork meatballs and greens would have been cooked in a sand clay pot. We used a cast iron casserole and cooked it in the oven. The name comes from intended resemblance to a lion's head of the shredded cabbage 'mane' drapped over the large meatball. The recipe I've adapted is from'Campion and Curtis in the Kitchen'. The recipe serves four so for two adults and a hungry toddler next time I'd probably halve this unless you want lots of left-overs, (I don't think the noodles would freeze well).

The recipe for this does also include finely chopped waterchestnuts in the meatball mix, I'm sure it would add a lot texturally but I've omitted them as I'm not sure how they sit in terms of nut proteins (and we had none in the cupboard).

500g pork mince
6 shiitake mushrooms (we used ordinary mushrooms as I couldn't find any today), finely chopped
4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 tsp grated ginger
3 tsp cornflour
30 ml Chinese rice wine (shao hsing wine) or dry sherry
extra cornflour

100g vermicelli noodles (from flour not bean thread)
1/2 chinese cabbage (wombok)
approx 500ml chicken stock
3 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs Chinese rice wine (shao hsing wine) or dry sherry

Mix together pork, mushrooms, spring onions, ginger, cornflour and rice wine. Divide mixture into 16 portions and make into balls using the extra cornflour.

Preheat the oven to 180 degreesC. Soak the vermicelli in boiling water for a few minutes until soft then drain. Chop the cabbage into 2cm chunks. Line the casserole with the cabbage then the vermicelli. Brown the meatballs in a frypan for a few minutes then add to the casserole dish. Mix soy sauce, stock and rice wine and pour into the casserole. Place lid on and cook for 45 minutes. Serve with rice and stir-fried vegies.

Edited later: After making these again, I've discovered asian vermicelli are not all the same. OriginallyI made this with 'Amoy flour vermicelli' which contain flour and tapioca. This worked perfectly. Make with just flour vermicelli the noodles turned to a sort of goo, which while kind of interesting, was not to be desired.


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