Fast Food

Lion’s Head

The king of meatballs

What is it?

Lion’s Head is Chinese meatballs. Originally from the region of Yangzhou and Zhenjiang in Jiangsu province, the dish became a classic Shanghainese dish, following the influx of immigrants to the city. The meatballs are made from minced pork (with an uneven ratio of fat to lean meat), and then braised in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar and sherry. In a method known (in Shanghai) as “red cooking”, they are cooked till tender. The dish is usually served in a clay pot to preserve the heat, along with napa cabbage that has been stewed in the same mixture as the meatballs.

And the name…

With a little imagination, the large meatballs represent a lion, with the bed of green thought to represent the lion’s mane.

What do you need to know when ordering?

Sometimes the dish is served “white” (plain) or “red” (cooked in soy sauce). The white version is deemed the healthier option since it’s cooked in broth.

The red version, however, is much more popular amongst locals. Many restaurants in Shanghai also offer the Crab Meat Lion’s Head, mixing hairy crab meat (see WiC3) into the meatballs.

And the best place to eat it?

Jishi Restaurant in Shanghai, 41 Tianping Road (Tel: +8621 62829260); another alternative in Shanghai, Nanling Restsaurant, 168 Yueyang Road, near Yongjia Road, French Concession

(Tel: +8621 6433 0897).


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