Asian recipes/ Chicken/ Dinner/ One-pot recipes/ Pork/ Quick & Easy/ Soups & Stews/ Vegetables

Chinese Lion’s Head Meatballs

16 May 2024

Pork & Chicken ginger meatballs, fried until browned and crispy, then stewed in a ginger, spring onion, garlic, soy sauce and chicken broth. Broth in which the bok choy also steams and simmers. Wow what a flavour bomb! And a great way to use bok choy in a different way!

Vegetables harvested at @plukcsafruittuin , recipe inspires by @thespruceeats

Chinese Lion's Head Meatballs

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Dinner Asian, Chinese
By Saffron Serves: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cooking Time: 40 minutes Total Time: 45 minutes


  • The meatballs
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (± 1 cm of oil in the pan)
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 3 - 4 cm ginger, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 500 g ground pork (see notes)
  • Pinch of salt
  • White or black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine (or sherry)
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons cornstarch, or flour
  • The Broth & Bok Choy
  • 1 spring onion, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 thin slices of ginger
  • 2 -3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (more to taste)
  • 500 g bok choy (I used 2 large ones), roughly chopped into large bite size pieces
  • Optional: 2 tsp cornstarch to add at the end to thicken the broth
  • To serve
  • Steamed white rice
  • Spring onions, finely chopped


The Meatballs


Add all the meatball ingredients into a large bowl, except the cornstarch. Using a wooden spoon or chopsticks whisk the mixture vigorously in 1 direction until a stick paste forms. This will take some elbow grease and some time, ± 5-7 minutes. Mixing it this thoroughly will stop the meatballs from falling apart while cooking. Mix through the cornstarch, 1 tablespoon at a time until slightly less sticky.


Divide the mixture into 4 portions, rub som sesame oil (or water) on your hands and form 4 nice round meat balls. They will still be quite sticky.


Heat the oil in a heavy based pot and gently place the meatballs into the hot oil and fry on medium to high heat until browned on one side, then flip over and repeat on the other side. This will take about 10 minutes in total. The outside should be nice and browned and crispy but it doesn't have to be cooked through yet. The crust will form a seal while the meatballs cook in the broth.

The Broth


Once the meatballs are browned all over remove from the pan and set aside. Pour out most of the oil, leaving about 1 tbsp behind. Add the spring onion, garlic and ginger slices and stir fry on high heat for about a minute before deglazing the pan with the stock. Add the soy sauces, sugar and sesame oil and bring to a simmer.


Place the meatballs back into the pot and simmer on low heat with the lid on for 10 minutes.


Then add the bok choy to the pot, tough stems at the bottom in the broth and the more fragile leaves layered on top (they will steam). Place the lid back on the pan and let simmer for another 7-8 minutes to let the bok choy cook.


Optional: If you would like to thicken the broth slightly make a slurry in a cup with 2 tsp of cornstarch and 1 tbsp cold water and mix well. Remove the meatballs from the pan and add the cornstarch slurry to the broth, stir well and let simmer for 1 -2 minutes, you will see the sauce thicken slightly.


Serve the meatballs in deep bowls with the bok choy divided over the top and a good helping of the broth poured over. Serve with white rice on the side topped off with spring onions.

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