This is my Shangdong grandmother’s and mother’s version of lion’s head. Jesse and I make this dish often as it’s one of our favorite Chinese comfort foods. Slowly braise to get tender, melt in your mouth meatballs. It’s best served with fresh steamy rice.

1 pound ground pork
1 head napa cabbage
12 stalks scallions, finely minced
1 teaspoon ginger, finely grated
1 egg
3 tablespoons cornstarch plus 1/2 cup cornstarch
4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon rice wine
5 tablespoon soy sauce plus 2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy
6 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Wash and separate Napa cabbage leaves, drain well. In a medium bowl, mix the ground pork, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 egg, minced scallions and grated ginger. With a pair of chopsticks, mix in one circular motion either clockwise or counter clockwise. While mixing, pour in 2 tablespoons water, mix and repeat. This method makes meatballs tender. Form four medium sized meatballs, about a ¼ pound each. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cornstarch on a dinner plate and roll the meatballs in cornstarch.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and brown the meatballs to a deep golden brown color on all sides. Remove and drain on a paper towel lined plate.

In a medium stovetop casserole dish or corning ware, place Napa cabbage leaves on the bottom. Place the meatballs on top of the cabbage; add 5 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce, 6 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 cup chicken broth. Cover, bring it to just before a boil then immediately lower the heat to a low simmer. Slowly braise until Napa cabbage is wilted and taken on soy color, about 20 to 30 minutes. The lion’s head casserole can be simmered up to 45 minutes. Serve immediately with steamy rice.

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