Fist of Kitchen presents… Eat it: China!

Recooking "The Art of Chinese Cooking" by The Benedictine Sisters of Peking, 1956 | Remixed by Fist of Kitchen 2013

book version

Lion’s Head

lions head illustration
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 8 dried mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 12 water chestnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 c. onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. ginger, minced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. sherry
  • 4 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sherry
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 1 head cabbage
  • 1 ½ c. hot water

Mix the meatballs together and form into whatever size you like, then sauté in hot oil. Nestle the balls amongst the cabbage leaves in a pot, then simmer with the water.

I was looking forward to trying this—porky, crunchy meatballs in a nice broth flavored with onion and ginger. Many people report this as a favorite comfort food, too. Frying up the meatballs was encouraging. The light texture and delicate flavor reminded me of some of the things I like best at dim sum…like the inside of a dumpling.

The sisters’ recipe calls for the sauteéd balls to simmer for a half-hour in water, and that might be where this went south. The flavor leached out of the meat without contributing to the “stock,” leaving it with nothing but faintly-livery, over-wet drabness. Google image searching the Chinese characters turns up a slightly different-looking thing than the English does—much more like the “red cooking” braise that’s popular in the eastern provinces. I so want this to be good! Next time, we’re going to try: grinding the meat at home, making smaller balls (you can see from the photo that ours were about baseball-size, which was unwieldy for eating) using an actual stock for the soup base, and using a more delicate, cuisine-appropriate cabbage (basic red and green were all that were available at the coöp today). We should use green onions, too. I don’t think that’s enough to make the meatballs right, though, and have some research to do…

One thing I did learn, though, is the pinyin on this is shī zǐ tóu. As in shihtzu. Anyone who would name a dog after a cat has a sense of humor I like!

Lion's Head
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