Lion's Head Meatballs 🦁

  • Pin
  • placeholder

    Lion’s Head meatballs (狮子头) are a classic Shanghainese dish my grandma makes only on very special occasions. Shout out to Turning Red for reminding me of this nostalgic dish and inspiring me to make them again! Here’s how to make them at home: 

    Ingredients for the meatballs: 

    • 1lb ground pork 

    • ~10 water chestnuts 

    • 1 tbsp ground ginger 

    • 2 scallions

    • 1 tbsp soy sauce 

    • 1 tbsp oyster sauce

    • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine 

    • 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce

    • 1 tsp white pepper 

    • 1/4 tsp five spice powder 

    • 1 egg

    • 1 tsp cornstarch 

    • 1/4 cup water

    • 3 tbsp breadcrumbs (italian or plan both work!) 

    • 2 cups vegetable oil 

    Ingredients for the sauce: 

    • 2 slices of ginger

    • 2 scallions cut into 1 inch pieces 

    • 2 tbsps brown sugar

    • 1 tbsp shaoxing wine

    • 1 tbsp soy sauce

    • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce 

    • 1.5 cups water

    • 1 tbsp cornstarch + more if you want a thicker gravy 


    • Finely chop water chestnuts, mince 2 scallions, and dice ginger 

    • To a bowl, add in the ground pork, ginger, scallions, and breadcrumbs

    • With your hands mix the breadcrumbs into the meat until well incorporated

    • Then add in soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, shaoxing wine, white pepper, five spice powder, egg, and cornstarch

    • Mix vigorously until meat starts to loosen and form a paste 

    • Drizzle in the 1/4 cup of water a little at a time and keep mixing vigorously in one direction for about 5 mins

    • Finally, add in the water chestnuts and stir vigorously for another 5 mins

    • To a pot, add in the veggie oil – there should be enough that the meatballs would largely get submerged in it 

    • Let the oil heat up to 350F then carefully mold the meatballs into a loose ball and gently place into the oil to fry till golden brown 

    • Remove the balls from the oil with a slotted spoon and set to the side

    • For the sauce, start by frying ginger and scallions till fragrant then mix in the sugar until it melts 

    • Add in the wine, soy sauces, and water and bring to a boil

    • Place the meatballs back in and cover, letting them cook for 15 mins 

    • Once the time is up, remove the lid and in a separate bowl, mix together the cornstarch and sauce until it forms a slurry 

    • Pour slurry into the sauce and cook until it turns thick and glossy 

    • Serve meatballs on a plate lined with bok choy that have been boiled for 2 mins

    • Drizzle sauce over the meatballs and enjoy