Id like to say I made this dish for the Chinese New Year. Truth is, I made it quite a few weeks ago and am just now getting around to writing about it not because it wasnt good enough (its an amazing dish) but because, well. life happens and I actually forgot about it until going through the photos Ive set aside for the blog. So here it is, better late than never .Lions Head Meatballs.
If ever there was a winter dish, this is it!! Massive meatballs bobbing around in a rich, aromatic broth with noodles to boot (or in this case, to slurp!) While I admit the meatballs and broth are somewhat monochromatic and perhaps a bit anemic looking, do not be fooled. Everything in this bowl packs a punch of flavor. The recipe comes from Cooks Illustrated and while it takes a bit of time to put together, most of the time is spent in the oven making your house smell incredible.
Lions Head Meatballs
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp table salt
2 pounds ground pork
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 scallions, white parts minced, green parts sliced thin
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp white pepper
4 cups chicken broth
1 small head napa cabbage (1-1/2 lbs), quartered lengthwise, cored, and cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
4 oz rice vermicelli
- Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325F degrees. Whisk baking soda, salt, and 2 tablespoons water together in bowl of stand mixer. Add pork to baking soda mixture and toss to combine. Add egg, scallion whites, soy sauce, wine, sugar, ginger, and white pepper. Fit stand mixer with paddle and beat on medium speed until mixture is well combined and has stiffened and started to pull away from sides of bowl and pork has slightly lighted in color, 45 to 60 seconds. Using your wet hands, form about 1/2 cup (4-1/2 oz) pork mixture into 3-inch round meatball; repeat with remaining mixture to form 8 meatballs.
- Bring broth to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Off heat, carefully arrange meatballs in pot (7 around perimeter and 1 in center; meatballs will not be totally submerged). Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook for 1 hour.
- Transfer meatballs to large plate. Add cabbage to pot in even layer and arrange meatballs over cabbage, paler side up. Cover, return pot to oven, and continue to cook until meatballs are lightly browned and cabbage is softened, about 30 minutes longer.
- While meatballs and cabbage cook, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Off heat, add vermicelli and let sit, stirring occasionally, until vermicelli is fully tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Dain, rinse with cold water, drain again, and distribute evenly among 4 to 6 large soup bowls.
- Ladle meatballs, cabbage and broth into bowls of noodles. Sprinkle with scallion greens and serve.