In Chinese cuisine, we often use all kinds of prosperous names for our dishes. From Bumper Harvest, Flourishing Prosperity, to A Hall Filled with Gold and Jade, we have a lot of auspicious names in our cuisine. This is the same for pork meatballs.
One of the typical Chinese dish that most of us might come across is Chinese Lion’s Head Pork Meatballs. People often eat this dish during a family reunion, also known as ‘Jiak Toh’ in Hokkien. It represents prosperity and good fortune for those who eat it. Therefore, people usually eat this dish during Chinese Lunar New Year, weddings and other special events.
Chinese Lion’s Head Pork Meatballs are typically served in two versions. The first is plain white with basic ingredients such as vegetables, minced pork, minced garlic, black fungus, bok choi and Napa cabbage.
The other type is in black soy sauce with red pork meat. Sometimes, this dish adds tofu in it to give it extra firmness and flavour. This dish can be eaten together with vermicelli noodles or white rice.
What Is Lion’s Head?
Lion’s Head means stewed meatball. Its name is due to its appearance. It is round-shaped with white colour; therefore, it is often seen to be similar to the Chinese guardian, lion’s, head.
This meatball is usually mixed with vegetables. It can be made of different types of meats such as beef, pork or chicken. However, since Chinese cuisine consists mostly of pork dishes, most of the times the meatballs are made with pork meat.
The plain white meatballs are typically mixed with meat ingredient and Napa cabbage as well as some black fungus. The red version of Lion’s Head is served in black soy sauce, with bamboo shoots or tofu.
Other than that, Chinese Lion’s Head Pork Meatballs can be prepared in vegetarian style as well, where you don’t use any meat at all.
The Origins And History Of Chinese Lion’s Head Pork Meatballs
This dish was originated from Yangzhou and Zhejiang in China. With the plain Lion’s Head in Yangzhou and more of the red version in Zhejiang, this dish has become famous and popular among the older generation in China.
In the 19th and early 20th century, this dish slowly became part of Shanghai’s cuisine due to the influx of migrants. Dated back to the Qing Dynasty, Chinese Lion’s Head Pork Meatballs was extremely exclusive in the Chinese community. It was served to the Chinese Emperor and his household.
Its fame and the recipe was even recorded by Chinese scholars as well! Researchers found this dish in the Qing Bai Le Chao recipe book by Xu Ke, and the recipe descriptions were elegant and full of details.
Where Can You Find This Dish?
Since it is common to find this dish in Chinese restaurants, it is not hard to make it yourself at home. All you have to do is stew the meatballs with different types of vegetables and meat of your choice. And you are good to go!
Here are some recommendations on Chinese restaurants for this dish:
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