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Chinese Meatballs with Cabbage (Red Cooked Lion Heads)

Updated on November 21, 2012

Red Cooked Lion Heads

Chinese Meatballs
Chinese Meatballs
Napa Cabbage
Napa Cabbage
Bamboo Shoots
Bamboo Shoots
Chinese Mushrooms
Chinese Mushrooms
Water Chestnuts
Water Chestnuts

Chinese Cooking

Cast your vote for Red Cooked Lion Heads


Red Cooked Lion Heads


There are no lions in China but the Chinese word for lion sounds like the Chinese word for teacher and when the Chinese eat "lion heads" they are reminded of Buddha who was the teacher of men. The large pork meatballs represent the lion heads and the hearts of the Napa cabbage are the lion’s manes.


These tasty meatballs get their flavor and texture from the minced Chinese mushrooms, cloud ears, water chestnuts, scallions and bamboo shoots that they contain. There is plenty of sauce for the rice from a combination of chicken broth, soy sauce and pan juices slightly thickened with cornstarch. This dish can also be cooked in advance and reheated the next day.


This recipe is an example of an easy, one pot meal (excluding the rice) which can be cooked on top of the stove.


This recipe is an example of eastern Chinese regional cuisine from the area around Shanghai.




Preparation Time:

30 Minutes

Cooking Time:

60 Minutes



1 Lb. of Ground Pork

6 Chinese Mushrooms (soak in hot water, discard stems and mince)

2 Tablespoons Cloud Ears (soak in hot water and mince)

1/3 Cup Minced Water Chestnuts

1/3 Cup Minced Bamboo Shoots

3 Scallions (mince including the green part)

2 Tablespoons Black Soy Sauce

1 Tablespoon of Dry White Wine

½ Teaspoon Sugar

¼ Teaspoon Pepper

1 ½ Tablespoons Cornstarch

Mix all of the above ingredients by hand and form the mixture into four large balls


2 Tablespoons Oil

2 Lbs. of Chinese Napa Cabbage cut into large chunks


Sauce Mixture:

1 Tablespoon Thin Sauce

1 Tablespoon Dry White Wine

1 Teaspoon Sugar

1 Cup Chicken Sauce

1 Tablespoon Cornstarch mixed with 1 Tablespoon Water

Salt to Taste


Cooking Instructions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and brown the meatballs on all sides and rhen remove them to a separate dish.
  2. Stir-fry the cabbage for two minutes in the oil that remains in the pan.
  3. Transfer the cabbage to a 4-quart pot and stir in the sauce mixture.
  4. Arrange the meatballs on top of the cabbage, cover the pot and simmer on top of the stove for thirty minutes.
  5. Remove the cabbage and meatballs to a serving bowl with the cabbage on the bottom.
  6. Pour the cornstarch and water into the liquid and continue cooking until it thickens and adjust with salt if necessary.
  7. Pour the thickened sauce over the meatballs and cabbage and serve with rice.


Chinese Meatballs

How to Cook Rice


Shanghai, China
Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China


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    • jojokaya profile image

      jojokaya 5 years ago from USA

      I am sure it's delicious. Rated up

    • robotmonster profile image

      robotmonster 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I ordered this at a Taiwanese restaurant the other day, it was my first time eating them. I was pretty impressed by how well they turn out. Nice recipe!

    • profile image

      girltalksshop 5 years ago

      I was so relieved to hear they do not really cook real lions heads. How awful that would be!! Thanks for sharing your interesting hub! : )

    • profile image

      Arlene V. Poma 5 years ago

      Very nicely done and looks delicious. I'm sure I can find the ingredients around town. So when are you publishing a cookbook? Bookmarked, voted up and everything else.

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 5 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Sounds good, maybe I'll come to you for this dish, kidding.