Chinese New Year Recipe: Lion's Head

8:19 PM

Serving Lion's Head to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit
Chinese New Year and the Year of the Rabbit begins on February 3rd and is celebrated for 15 days. The holiday was always a joyous and exciting time of year when I was growing up. There was always a big Chinese New Year feast at our family's restaurant. All my aunts, uncles and cousins would come together and dine on whole steamed fish and chicken (representing abundance). Also on the menu was braised Chinese mushrooms, longevity noodles (representing long life) and my dad's famous lobster Cantonese. No one was allowed to speak of anything sad or fight as this was considered bad luck. And the highlight of the day had to have been when the adults handed out red envelopes stuffed with money to all the kids. 

So now as an adult with my own family, I find myself wanting to pass down some of these Chinese New Year traditions, superstitions and all. The house is clean, cleaning out any bad luck. We placed a pair of clementines in each room of our house symbolizing happiness, good fortune and health. Red envelopes are stuffed and ready to hand out to the boys. All that is missing is the big feast. I'm a little behind with menu planning and shopping due to all the friggin' snow we've been getting. But thought I'd share a new recipe we tested this week that was a huge hit and will definitely be part of our family's Chinese New Year tradition.

Lion's Heads with lots of mane (or cabbage)

Lion's Head 
Adapted from Ming Tsai's Simply Ming One-Pot Meals

Note: Chinese dishes have evocative names. The lion's head refers to the meatballs and the cabbage represents the mane. A lion represents strength and the roundness of the meatball represents family, togetherness.

3/4 lb ground pork
3/4 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 tbs minced garlic
2 tbs minced ginger
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs sesame oil
1 cup steamed white rice
2 large eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small head napa cabbage, cut into thin strips

1. Set up steamer (bamboo steamer or dish elevated above water-filled wok)

make-shift steamer in a wok
2. In a large bowl, combine the pork, beef, onions, garlic, ginger, Worcestershire sauce, sesame oil, rice and eggs. Season with salt and pepper and mix by hand until combined.

3. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch balls. Place a 3/4 to 1-inch bed of cabbage in the top of the steamer and top with the meatballs. Season with salt and pepper and steam until the meatballs and cabbage are cooked through (10-12 minutes). Transfer the cabbage to a platter , top with the meatballs and serve.

The Good: Super easy to make. No rolling around meatballs in oil.

The Bad: The cabbage cooks down dramatically. Wish there was more cabbage to go around.

Grade: A. The boys could not get enough. Great, quick, healthy weeknight meal.

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