How has your week been? I have been besieged with car problems. Well, it was actually a flat car battery. It may seem like a simple enough problem to solve. However, when you add to the mix that the battery is only two months old, was unable to be jump started with the help of many friends and that I do not have an auto recovery/assist service, it quickly gets problematic. After signing up with an auto recovery service provider I had to wait twenty-four hours for the service to be activated before I could request a call out. The problem didn’t end there however, an argument and two visits to the garage later the car battery has finally been replaced at no additional cost. Enough nattering about my car problems, I am glad it is all solved now.
In other more important news, I was fortunate enough to receive a box of goji berries from the kind people at nutrition experts, nu3. I have previously shared a recipe for Steamed Chinese Herbal Chicken in which I had steamed chicken with some goji berries along with red dates and “dong quai”. As goji berries produce such a sweet flavour, it is a common ingredient in Chinese cooking especially in broths. It is also commonly added to dishes such as rice porridge and stir fried vegetables. This time, I used the goji berries to make a dish of braised pork meatballs in a nourishing broth. These meatballs are called “Lionhead Meatballs”. I am not kidding and I didn’t just make that up!
Anyway, as I mentioned, these meatballs are essentially pork meatballs but why call them simply pork meatballs when they can have the much grander moniker of lionhead meatballs? The minced pork is flavoured with finely diced ginger, garlic, coriander, scallions, light soy sauce, Shaoxing rice wine and sesame oil. From this list of ingredients, you can already imagine the taste of these meatballs, all savoury and juicy. The meatballs are then fried until just browned on the outside before being added to a broth and simmered.
The broth is flavoured by the sweetness of the Chinese leaves (Chinese cabbage) and goji berries. The taste is further enhanced by some sliced ginger, light soy sauce and Shaoxing rice wine, not to mention the juices from the meatballs as they are simmered on top of the Chinese leaves for 30 minutes. The resulting broth is super sweet with a slight hint of heat from the ginger. It is such a warming and delicious dish especially when eaten on a cold rainy evening. You can eat this with some boiled rice or noodles, or just as it is. Meat and vegetables all in one pot!
Recipe for Lionhead Meatballs
Prep Time: 20 minutes / Cooking Time 30 minutes / Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish (for 1.5” size, I got 11 meatballs)
You will need a wok (with a cover) or a deep pot with a cover
Ingredients for Meatballs
250gm Minced Pork
2 tsp diced Ginger
2 tsp diced Garlic
2 tsp finely chopped Coriander
1 tsp finely chopped Scallions
1½ Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Shaoxing Rice Wine
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1 tsp Salt
Dash of White Pepper
3 Tbsp Plain Flour (for dusting the meatballs)
3 Tbsp Cooking Oil
Ingredients for Broth
1 tsp diced Garlic
1” Ginger (sliced into thin strips)
3 Tbsp Goji Berries
1 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Shaoxing Rice Wine
350gm (slightly more than half) Chinese leaves (also known as Chinese cabbage) (separate leaves and cut into 2” strips)
Coriander (for garnishing)
1. Put the minced pork in a deep bowl and season with ginger, garlic, coriander, scallions, light soy sauce, Shaoxing rice wine, sesame oil, salt and white pepper. Use your hands to mix until the meat is evenly season. Now, add in the egg and mix again.
2. On a separate plate, place the plain flour for dusting the meatballs. Using wet hands (it’s easier to roll meatballs with wet hands) roll the meat mixture into balls. Roll lightly in the plain flour and set aside. Once all the meatballs are done, heat the cooking oil in a wok or deep pot over high heat. Once the oil is hot, add in the meatballs and fry until it’s browned on the outside. This should take about 2 minutes. Lower the heat if it’s too hot, you are not cooking the meatballs thoroughly but more to brown the outsides. Also, don’t overcrowd the meatballs in the wok/pot, fry the meatballs in batches if you have to.
3. Once the meatballs are browned, remove and set aside. You will be using the same wok/pot to now make the broth in. Warm up the residual oil in the wok/pot over medium-high heat. Add in the garlic and sauté quickly, before it gets burnt, add in the water. Add in the ginger slices, goji berries, light soy sauce and Shaoxing Rice Wine.
4. Next, put in the Chinese leaves. Arrange in a circular pattern around the wok/pot. This is because you will use the Chinese leaves as a base for placing the meatballs on. Now, place the meatballs on top of the Chinese leaves. Cover the pot and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.