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July has just crept up on me and I can’t believe the year is halfway over already.  At work last week, my coworker asked what the date was, then upon finding out it was July 1st, she said, “Oh, Christmas is around the corner then!”  Which we all laughed at, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Halloween decorations go up as soon as July 4th is over.

Lion's Head Meatballs

One of my husband’s favorite dishes is Lion’s Head Meatballs.  They are tennis-ball-sized meatballs, usually plated on a bed of cabbage or bok choy leaves to give the appearance of a lion’s mane.  Yesterday, I tried making these for the first time….these will definitely be a work in progress.  The actual meatballs were delicious, but were missing that je ne sais pas, that restaurant flavor/component.  Its close though.

Note that when making lion’s head meatballs, all the ingredients have to be very finely chopped, such that the eater can’t see or pick out the onions/ginger/water chestnuts.  I didn’t do this due to laziness, but will make a point to next time I make these…it does make a difference according to Hubs.

I also didn’t use bok choy this time, as I forgot to buy some at Ranch 99, but the original recipe below called for 4 ounces of bok choy, stalks trimmed and leaves rinsed.  They should have been added during the last few minutes of cooking, allowed to cook with the meatballs for 2-3 minutes, or until the leaves are just wilted, then plated with the meatballs on top.  Other recipes call for the bok choy to be added during the initial stages of cooking, layered over the bottom of the pan, meatballs on top, stock poured over everything, and then everything simmers together.

Lion’s Head Meatballs, adapted from the cookbook Thai & South-East Asian Cooking & Far Eastern Classics

1 lb lean pork, ground or minced finely, with little fat
8 drained canned water chestnuts, finely chopped
1 t  fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 T dark soy sauce
1 egg, beaten
1 T cornstarch
black pepper
2 T vegetable oil
1 c chicken stock
1/2 t sugar

Mix the pork, water chestnuts, ginger and onion with 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce in a bowl.  Add salt and pepper to taste (I added a dash of each) and stir in enough of the beaten egg to bind.  Form into 5-6 large meatballs, set aside.

In a small bowl of very warm water, add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and mix well to make a slurry.

Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan and brown the meatballs all over.  When done, remove from pan.  Add the stock, sugar and remaining 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce to the pan.  Heat gently, stirring to incorporate the oil and ground pork bits left in the pan.  Return meatballs to the pan and use a spoon to pour some of the sauce over the meatballs.  Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes.  Remove meatballs from pan and keep hot.  Stir the cornstarch slurry into the pan, mixing with the sauce.  Bring to a boil and continue stirring until the sauce thickens.  Pour over the meatballs and serve immediately.

Serves 3-4.