Friday, November 20, 2009

Lion's Head (Pork Meatballs with Napa Cabbage)

Obviously it is not uncommon for me to try cooking something I've never cooked before.  But occasionally I am so crazy that I try cooking something I've never even eaten before.  I know.  I'm a maniac.

Tonight's dish was motivated by a particularly beautiful head of napa cabbage that I picked up at the farmers market last weekend.  I sought out a recipe that put a spotlight on this lovely pale green cabbage, and found Lion's Head.  I was intrigued.  And considering I got the original recipe from Rachael Ray, I'm guessing it's not the most authentic Chinese cuisine.  But it's tasty.

This is a meal meant to be served over rice, but I chose to have it as a shallow sort of soup.  It reminded me of matzo ball soup, only with giant meatballs instead of matzo balls.  The flavors are mild, so if you're looking for something with more zing I'd add ginger or maybe hot chilies to the meatballs.  As it stands, it's a comforting and hearty meal that is pretty inoffensive, and maybe even yummy.  You be the judge.

Feel free to substitute ground turkey or chicken, though if it's too lean it will be too dry.

Lion's Head
adapted from Rachael Ray's Book of 10
serves 3


1 pound lean ground pork
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 egg
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
3 scallions, green parts only, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 small to medium head of napa cabbage, cored and chopped


1.  Combine pork, soy sauce, egg, garlic, scallions, bell pepper, and one tablespoon of the cornstarch in a bowl.  Stir together until combined, but do not overmix.  It's kind of gross, but you should probably use your hands.  Form into six large meatballs.  Dust the meatballs evenly with remaining cornstarch.

2.  In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil over high heat.  When it is starting to ripple, add the meatballs and fry for about 2 minutes on each side, so the meatballs are nicely browned all over but not cooked through.

3.  In a medium to large Dutch oven or soup pot, bring the chicken broth to a bubble.  Add half the cabbage, followed by the meatballs, followed by the remaining cabbage.  The pot should be pretty much filled up to the top.  Put on the lid and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove the lid and let simmer for about a minute.  The cabbage should be mostly wilted and the meatballs should be cooked through.  Serve.


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