Pork meatball with Chinese cabbage and vermicelli in clay pot
This recipe is my twist on a traditional Chinese comfort food called "Lion's Head" supposedly the meatball resembles a lion's head and the Chinese cabbage leaves in the dish resembles its mane. I have added an extra step to lightly browned the meatballs in the oven before cooking in the clay pot. This is to hold its shape and seal the flavours. You can substitute the pork mince with chicken mince if you don't eat pork. This recipe is easy to make at home and is deliciously healthy to eat either as a broth, with rice or vermicelli. The Chinese cabbage, or napa cabbage, is perfect in this dish soaking up the flavours, delicately sweet, silkily smooth and soft. The meatball is juicy, succulent and tenderly soft. If you like, you can dip the meatball in chilli oil and hoisin sauce, or a mixture of freshly cut red chillies in soy sauce
Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in hot water to soften them. Rinse and mince the mushrooms
Soak dried shrimps in water and rinse them a few times. Dry and mince the dried shrimps
Prepare and cut the other ingredients - spring onions, ginger and Chinese cabbage
Prepare and cook the rice vermicelli
In a large bowl, mix the ingredients - pork mince, shiitake mushrooms, dried shrimps, spring onions, ginger, light soy, Chinese cooking wine, sesame oil, sugar, pepper, corn starch and egg - and, blend to combine all the ingredients
Form and shape the pork mixture into individual pork meatballs. Place on an oven tray. Bake or grill in the oven at 120C for 3 minutes to lightly browned the meatballs
Remove meatballs from the overn after 3 minutes. Heat up a clay pot with 4 tablespoons of cooking oil. Once oil is hot, place 4 slices of fresh ginger to gentle fry for the aroma. Then add some cabbage leaves with a bit of chicken stock. Add the meatballs. Add more cabbage leaves and chicken stock. Cover the lid and cook for 20-30 minutes
Serve with rice vermicelli and garnish with chopped spring onions
How to make
Soak mushrooms in hot boiling water until soft and then chop them until quite fine, but not too fine. Same with the dried shrimps, soak them in water (room temperature is fine) and rinse a few times to remove any dirt and excess salt. Then chop the dried shrimps until quite fine, but not too fine, so the chewy texture is still there.
Wash and cut the spring onions (the green section). Reserve some as garnish and finely chop the remaining. Set aside.
Peel the ginger skin. Slice a few pieces and set aside. Finely mince the rest of the ginger and set aside.
Cut and discard base of the Chinese cabbage. Then slice the cabbage lengthwise into halves. Set aside.
Prepare and cook the rice vermicelli according to instruction on the packet. Set aside.
In a large bowl, add the minced shiitake mushrooms, dried shrimps, spring onions and ginger with the pork mince. Then add 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 1 small teaspoon of white sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of ground white pepper, 1 tablespoon of corn starch and 1 egg. Mix through thoroughly until the pork mixture is blended together evenly.
Wet both hands with starch water (mix some corn starch or flour with water). This is to make it easier to roll the meatballs without the mixture sticking on the hands. Make small to medium size individual meatballs and place on top of a baking tray.
Preheat the oven at 120 C on a fan forced oven. Once the oven is hot, put the tray of meatballs in the oven and bake/grill for 3 minutes to lightly browned the meatballs. This step will help hold the shape of meatballs and seal the flavours.
Add 4 tablespoons of cooking oil into a clay pot over a medium heat. Once oil is hot, add 4 slices of fresh ginger. Gentle simmer the ginger slices until it releases its aroma into the oil for 30 seconds. Add some Chinese cabbage leaves and lightly fry for 1 minute. Add a bit of chicken stock. Next, add some pork meatballs and more cabbage leaves. Fill the clay pot with chicken stock to almost cover meatballs. Turn heat up to high and cook for 20 minutes. Then lower the heat to a gentle simmer for another 10 minutes to let the flavours infused in the broth.
When it is ready to serve, add some cooked rice vermicelli in a bowl. Then add some of the cabbage leaves and pork meatballs. Top it up with some broth and garnish with chopped spring onions. Add a bit of chilli oil for a spicier broth, which is optional. Or, serve meatballs with some dipping sauce; such as, chilli and hoisin sauce, or a mixture of cut fresh red chillies with light soy.
500gm pork mince
1/2 Chinese cabbage (napa cabbage)
4-6 dried shiitake mushrooms
3 tablespoons dried shrimps
2 spring onions
2-3 inches fresh ginger
1 tablespoon of corn starch
2 tablespoons of light soy
1 tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon of white pepper ground
1 teaspoon of white sugar
500 ml of chicken stock