Lion's Head Meatballs

Lion's Head Meatballs

5 Reviews
From: EatingWell Magazine, July/August 2007

This is a famous dish along the Yangtze, with regional variations. In Shanghai, the sauce will be sweet and sour. In Chongqing, it will be hot and spicy. And in Wuhan…well, it will depend on the season and the mood of the chef.

Ingredients 1 serving

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  • 1 cup “lite” coconut milk
  • 2½ tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 pound lean ground pork, or beef
  • ½ cup chopped scallions
  • ¼ cup minced leek, white and pale green part only
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons seeded and minced fresh chile pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium head Boston or iceberg lettuce
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil, or Thai basil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest


  • Active

  • Ready In

  1. Combine coconut milk, soy sauce and curry powder in a large saucepan. Set aside.
  2. Place pork (or beef), scallions, leek, cornstarch, flour, sesame oil, ginger, chile, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Knead by hand until combined and the mixture becomes sticky. Divide into 10 equal portions, about ¼ cup each. Roll each portion into a ball.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, swirling to coat the sides. Add the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
  4. Bring the coconut-milk mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs; cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 8 minutes.
  5. Line a serving bowl with lettuce leaves. Arrange the meatballs on top. Garnish with basil and lemon zest. Serve hot with the coconut-milk sauce drizzled over the top or on the side for dipping.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the meatball mixture (Step 2) for up to 2 days.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: 1 meatball
  • Per serving: 116 calories; 7 g fat(3 g sat); 1 g fiber; 5 g carbohydrates; 10 g protein; 18 mcg folate; 26 mg cholesterol; 0 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 687 IU vitamin A; 3 mg vitamin C; 23 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 297 mg sodium; 169 mg potassium
  • Carbohydrate Servings: ½
  • Exchanges: 1½ lean meat, ½ vegetable

Reviews 5

October 20, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
This dish look like normal Western meatball that you have seen from the store and it doesn't look like the real original Lion's head from China. I cooked my Lion's head and mine look much better than yours. Pros: nice garnish Cons: Look like normal meatball
February 24, 2011
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By: EatingWell User
excellent I used ground beef (grass fed), doubled the amount of ginger and scallions, and everyone liked it. I wonder if it would be ok if the cornstarch was eliminated. Pros: easy and great tasting
November 19, 2010
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By: Jessie Price
I want to dive right in and chow down! I love this photo! I want to dive right in and chow down on these meatballs. The best part of them is the curry-coconut sauce that goes with them. You'll want to eat it straight by the spoonful.
March 29, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
Just made for the first time after keeping the recipe for quite a while; excellent flavor! 1/2 pork, 1/2 chicken was my choice. Very easy and worked well to finish cooking in a crock pot at work for a group lunch. No leftovers!
October 24, 2009
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By: tina_wolfram
This is a staple with my boyfriend and I. I usually use half ground turkey and half ground pork to lower the fat content. The flavor is wonderful and its very easy to make.
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