Lion’s Head Casserole is a simple dish of pork meatballs and napa cabbage. The meatballs supposedly look like lion’s heads, which is a stretch, I know, but that is the name. Last week, I wasn’t feeling that great and got in that I want my mommy mood. (Yes, I’m 30.) I whined and asked my mom to make me a pot of this umami-powered dish that feels so nurturing. It feels mommy-made. I took pictures and notes, not remembering that I already posted this dish over a year ago.

I decided that it was worth re-posting for the new pics and some added thoughts. It’s interesting to compare the notes since my mom does not ever use recipes. It’s amazingly similar in making the meat mixture, but you’ll notice that you can vary the size of the meatballs if you want.

Lion's Head Casserole 2

Lion’s Head Casserole originated in Shanghai but it has spread as a commonly known dish among the Chinese of many other origins, usually becoming a household favorite for kids. My mom thinks that the Shanghainese make their meatballs softer, with breadcrumbs or tofu in the mixture, while my mom prefers hers without much filler, a more meaty texture. (Note that if you use tofu, it will have to be eaten within a day or so because they will turn a little sour.)

Lion’s Head Casserole is a great way to have your meat and veggies made in one dish that saves well and reheats well. I recommend this as one of those staple dishes you learn. Get a rice cooker and you’re set.

Lion's Head Casserole 4

Kelly’s Lion’s Head Casserole
~about 10 meatballs

  • 1 (2lb) head of napa cabbage
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • rice to serve

Instructions –

1. Clean napa cabbage and cut into 1.5″ segments. Separate into 2 piles: stem pieces and leafy pieces. Set aside.

2. Combine pork, soy sauce, and scallions in a small bowl. Add 6 tablespoons water, cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Stir.

meatball mixture

3. Mix in egg white and beat until sticky and well combined. Set aside.

4. Heat oil in a wok or wide pan (at least 4″ high sides) on medium high heat.

5. Wet your hands to form 1.5″ meatballs and place in the oil. Turn and brown them on all sides, cooking about half-way through.


6. Dump out the excess oil in the pan, leaving just about 2 teaspoons in the pan. Turn the heat up to high and add the stem pieces of napa cabbage. Flip around with the meatballs. Add 1 cup of water. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until stem pieces have softened. *As you cook, you may need to adjust the amount of water added because each napa cabbage will release a different amount of water.

7. Add the leafy pieces and stir. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Lower the heat and cook until ready, about 5 minutes. Check that the cabbage is tender and there should be some sauce but not soupy. Serve with rice.

Lion's Head Casserole 8

*Left-overs can be saved in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week. Reheat in the microwave or stove-top.

posted by jessica at 09:38 AM Filed under Chinese, Recipes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.