Saturday, April 21, 2012

China: Cooking Around the World Adventure

We traveled, by tabletop to China, last week, but I am just now sitting down to blog about that fab meal. When I was researching what to make for that dinner, I emailed my friend Belle who responded with exactly what I had open on another tab: lion's head meatballs. Taking that as a sign, I decided that was the recipe for tonight. Thanks, Belle.

Belle also suggested onion pancakes, so we kicked off the feast with our version of that. Dylan did a great job on them. But really, what 8-year-old wouldn't have a blast squishing dough with a rolling pin?!?

Traditionally this Shanghai casserole dish features oversized pork meatballs and greens and is cooked in a sand clay pot. The large meatballs are meant to represent a lion, and the shredded greens its mane. I didn't have ground pork, so I used ground beef. And I had a bounty of greens from my High Ground CSA box that I had picked up that afternoon, so my version used kale and spinach and arugula for the mane. 
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 2 C wild arugula
  • 2 leeks, diced and divided
  • 1 t minced ginger
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 2 T chopped cilantro
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 lb organic 96/4 ground beef (traditionally, it's made with pork, I had beef)
  • 3/4 t pink Himalaya salt
  • 1 T honey
  • 2 1/2 t white wine (traditionally, it's made with pale dry sherry, I had some leftover Frascati in my fridge)
  • 3 T light soy sauce, divided
  • 1/2 t toasted sesame oil
  •  flower pepper, to taste
  • olive oil
  • 1 1/2 C organic chicken broth


1. Wash and dry the greens. Cut crosswise into 1-inch strips. Dice the leek; mince the ginger and garlic; and chop the cilantro.

2. In a small bowl, beat the egg with a fork. In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef with one of the leeks, ginger, garlic, salt, honey, wine, 1 T soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, flower pepper, if using, and the egg, using your fingers to mix together the ingredients thoroughly. If the mixture is too wet, add cornstarch or flour 1 t at a time; I didn't use any.

3. Form the ground beef into 4 large meatballs. Flatten them a bit so that they are not completely round.

. Heat oil in a skillet or wok on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the meatballs. Cook for 5 minutes until browned on the bottom. Turn and cook the other side.

5. In a large saucepan that is large enough to hold the meatballs, saute the second leek and cilantro until softened completely. Pour in the chicken broth and 2 T soy sauce. Bring to a boil.

6. Add the meatballs, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Add the greens. Simmer for another 15 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through and there is no pinkness in the middle.

To serve Lion's Head Meatballs, serve each meatball on a small plate surrounding by the greens, or in soup bowls with some of the greens and broth. You can also thicken some of the broth with cornstarch to make a gravy to pour over the meatballs.

Enjoy my tabletop travels. Join me in whipping up a dish or two. If you cook do cook a recipe from one of these countries, I'd love to hear about it. Feel free to comment on the posts themselves or email me at constantmotioncamilla at gmail dot com.

This Knight of the Global Table Adventure is signing off for now. We're moving through the 'C's now. Stay tuned for Columbia.

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