Giant pork “lion head” meatballs (Shi Zi Tou) – a Chinese recipe

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! Time to bring out the mooncakes and watch the full harvest moon – as we say, may the flowers be beautiful and the moon be round. This week’s recipe is also round! These meatballs are roughly the size of tennis balls, and are called lion heads or sixi (lucky four) meatballs, as you’d usually make four.

If you’d like a further touch of the autumn, you can also add a few chopped water chestnuts to the mix. The most important thing is to use minced pork belly and not a leaner mince, as it really makes a difference to how light and tender the meatballs turn out in the end.

While it’s relatively easy to make, the cooking time can be quite long, as the meatballs need to be ideally cooked on low heat for 1-2 hours.

Lion_Head_Pork_Meatballs

Ingredients
400g of minced pork
1 egg
1 tbsp of plain flour
1 tsp of sugar
1 tbsp of rice wine
1 tsp of finely minced ginger (optional)
1 tsp of finely minced garlic (optional)
Small piece of ginger
2 tbsp of soy sauce

2 heads of pak choi

You’ll also need salt to taste, a little cooking oil and water.

Lion_Head_Pork_Meatballs

Step 1: in a large mixing bowl, place the mince into it and add the egg, flour, sugar, rice wine and minced garlic and ginger, then dust with salt.

Lion_Head_Pork_Meatballs

Step 2: mix in one direction until the mixture is sticky and firm. If needed, add more flour slowly.

Step 3: once the mince is of a good consistency, divide it into 4 and pat lightly into meatballs.

Lion_Head_Pork_Meatballs

Step 4: add a little oil to a pan, add the chunk of ginger, and once the oil is hot, drop in the meatballs. Cook and turn until the outside looks less red (but not yet golden).

Lion_Head_Pork_Meatballs

Step 5: add the soy sauce and water to at least cover the meatballs half way, bring to the boil, skim off any scum then turn to low heat. Cover and simmer for 1-2 hours, until there is hardly any juice left.

Lion_Head_Pork_Meatballs

Step 6: in a separate pan, stir fry the pak choi. Don’t chop the leaves and cook them whole. Use the pak choi as the bed and place the meatballs on top to serve!

Lion_Head_Pork_Meatballs

You can also drizzle a little sesame oil onto the lion heads right at the end. Let me know how it goes if you decide to try it!

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