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When I was a young girl, I would love to come home from school and find my grandmother cooking in the kitchen all day. Our house would be filled with fragrant chilies, fresh cut vegetables, roasted garlic, lemons, aged soy sauce, star anise, ginger and caramelized rock sugar. Lion’s head has been the No. 1 comfort food in our family.

My grandmother was originally from Qingdao, grew up in Beijing then relocated to Taipei, Taiwan in the 50’s after college. In addition to my grandmother’s unique passion to food and gourmet cooking, Fu Pei Mei, the renown and beloved mother of Northern style cooking largely influenced her cooking style throughout the 70’s and 80’s. In those years, my grandmother traveled and lived as an expat in Saudi Arabia and Katong, Singapore, where she embraced cooking as a way to be closer to home. In the 90’s, she devoted her time to her grandchildren in America; gifting her heart through the food she prepared every day. Grandmothers are the best and here is a loving recipe that has been enjoyed in our family for decades.

artisan foods

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…

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1 pork loin, bone in (about 2.5 pounds, 5 bones)
2 onion, sliced
2 tablespoons good olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 1/2 cup good red wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400° F / 200° C.

In a roasting pan, place the pork bone side down. Liberally season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil, rub 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder, minced garlic and rosemary on top of the pork.

Roast in convection oven for 35 minutes or 45 minutes in a regular oven, until the internal temperature reaches 140° F / 60° C. Remove from oven and let stand, covered with aluminum foil for 15 minutes.

While pork loin is roasting in the oven.  In a saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat, caramelize sliced onions with 1 teaspoon sugar, salt & pepper until soft and golden brown. Deglaze pan with 1/2 cup red wine and 1/2 cup chicken broth. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer, until the liquid is almost gone. Repeat with a second 1/2 cup red wine, reduce for about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the last 1/2 cup red wine, reduce sauce to half and slightly thickened. Season with salt & pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

Remove the bone from the roast pork loin. Slice roast pork, arrange on platter and serve with the warm onion reduction.


“Our market” at 328 Jianguo lu near Taiyuan lu. 嘉善菜场, 建国西路328号近太原路。We find the produce at this market fresher and better than most larger Chinese supermarkets in the area like Tesco and Carrefour.

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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