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.”
1hr 45mins

Ingredients Nutrition


  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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