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Shih Tzu Tou ( Lion's Head Casserole)

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“Ruffled Napa cabbage is arranged around large pork meatballs to create the appearance of the lionlike Tibetan dog. A wonderful balance of flavors, serve it with steamed white rice. The pork mixture can be made up to 1 day ahead and chilled, covered, and the cabbage can be cut 1 day ahead, then chilled, wrapped in dampened paper towels, in large sealed plastic bags(press out any excess air before sealing).From the May 2007 issue of Gourmet.”
READY IN:
1hr 45mins
SERVES:
4
UNITS:
US

Ingredients Nutrition

Directions

  1. Cover mushrooms with boiling hot water in a small bowl and let stand 30 minutes, then squeeze excess water from mushrooms and reserve 1 cup mushroom-soaking liquid.
  2. Discard mushroom stems and cut caps into very thin slices.
  3. Meanwhile, mix together pork,scallions,water chestnuts,rice wine,sesame oil, sugar, 1 tablespoon ginger,1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl with your hands.
  4. Gather together pork mixture and throw against bottom or side of bowl 5 or 6 times to firm texture, then chill, covered, until ready to use.
  5. Remove and reserve 4 large cabbage leaves.
  6. Halve cabbage head lengthwise, then cut out and discard core.
  7. Cut cabbage leaves crosswise into 2 inch pieces.
  8. Heat wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates instantly; swirl 2 tablespoons oil to coat bottom and sides of wok, then stir-fry mushrooms, half of cabbage, and remaining tablespoon of ginger until cabbage begins to wilt,about 1 to 2 minutes.
  9. Add remaining cabbage and 3/4 teaspoon salt and stir-fry until all of cabbage has begun to wilt, about 3 minutes.
  10. Add reserved soaking liquid (1 cup) and continue stir-frying until cabbage is wilted, about 3 minutes.
  11. Transfer mixture to a 4 to 5 quart heavy pot, arranging evenly on bottom; wipe wok clean with paper towels.
  12. Stir together cornstarch, pepper, and remaining soy sauce in a small bowl until smooth.
  13. Divide pork mixture into quarters, then coat your hands with some of cornstarch/soy sauce mixture.
  14. Form 4 large meatballs, transfering each as formed to a large plate and then recoating your hands.
  15. Heat wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates instantly, then pour in remaining oil, enough to measure a scant 1/4 inch in wok.
  16. Reduce heat to moderately high and gently arrange meatballs in wok.
  17. Fry meatballs, turning gently until deep golden on all sides, about 5 minutes total; if meatballs stick, add a little more oil.
  18. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, then arrange on top of cabbage in pot.
  19. Add broth, then cover meatballs completely with reserved 4 cabbage leaves.
  20. Bring liquid just to boil, then reduce heat and gently simmer, covered, 1 hour; check frequently to make sure liquid is not boiling vigorously.
  21. Season broth with salt, then move large cabbage leaves around the edge of pot to resemble a lion's mane.
  22. Serve in individual shallow bowls over rice, if desired.

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