Lion's Head

Lion's Head


  • 1 Tablespoon  soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon  Shao-Hsing wine or dry sherry
  • 1 Teaspoon  sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon  freshly grated ginger
  •   Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • water chestnuts, chopped finely (optional)
  • 1 Pound  ground pork butt, preferably from the shoulder*
  •   All-purpose flour, for dredging the meatballs
  • 2 Tablespoons  vegetable oil
  • small head Napa cabbage, cut into 2-inch strips
  • clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 Cup  chicken broth
  •   Cooked rice, for serving (optional)

Lion's Head is a simple country dish made with meat and vegetables; yes, that's it. But what's with the name? The idea is that — OK, a little imagination would help here — a large meatball presented on top of a bed of braised cabbage, vaguely, resembles the head and mane of a lion.

Lion's Head is a very popular dish in modern-day Shanghai cuisine, even though it traces its origin to Yangzhou in eastern China. It is a slow-cooked dish, not one to be rushed because it takes time for the pork and cabbage to develop flavor. When you have an afternoon free, put some music on, pour yourself a glass of wine, put yourself at ease, and then get started in the kitchen.


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, wine, sugar, ginger, a good pinch of salt, and a couple rounds of ground black pepper. Add the combined seasoning and water chestnuts, if using, to the pork in a large bowl. Mix well and shape meat into 2- to 3-inch-diameter balls. Roll the meatballs in flour to give them a light coating.

Heat a large oven-safe cooking pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the meatballs. Let them cook for a couple of minutes before turning them over. Make sure to brown all sides and then remove them from the pot and set aside.

Continue with the same pot over medium-high heat; add the Napa cabbage. Season with a pinch of salt. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute.

Add the chicken broth to the Napa cabbage. Let the broth come to a boil, then add back the meatballs. Nestle the meatballs among the Napa cabbage. Cover the pot and place in the oven. Cook for 2 hours. Remove from the oven. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with rice, if desired.


*Note: Although Lion's Head is best made slowly, you can make this dish in a shorter amount of time by using a different cut of pork. I'd suggest center loin or pork loin, which is leaner and more tender than shoulder. But, be sure to only reduce oven cooking time to 30 minutes; you can choose to simmer the pot on stove at medium-low heat instead. Give it a try!


Calories per serving:

356 calories

Dietary restrictions:

Low Carb Dairy Free, Egg Free, Milk Free, Peanut Free, Fish Free, Shellfish Free

Daily value:



  • Fat 89g 137%
  • Carbs 57g 19%
  • Saturated 23g 115%
  • Fiber 16g 65%
  • Trans 1g
  • Sugars 30g
  • Monounsaturated 46g
  • Polyunsaturated 13g
  • Protein 98g 196%
  • Cholesterol 292mg 97%
  • Sodium 1,787mg 74%
  • Calcium 351mg 35%
  • Magnesium 197mg 49%
  • Potassium 3,010mg 86%
  • Iron 9mg 51%
  • Zinc 16mg 106%
  • Phosphorus 1,160mg 166%
  • Vitamin A 45µg 5%
  • Vitamin C 234mg 391%
  • Thiamin (B1) 3mg 192%
  • Riboflavin (B2) 2mg 129%
  • Niacin (B3) 27mg 134%
  • Vitamin B6 3mg 164%
  • Folic Acid (B9) 294µg 74%
  • Vitamin B12 4µg 69%
  • Vitamin D 3µg 1%
  • Vitamin E 8mg 41%
  • Vitamin K 484µg 605%
MORE FROM EDAMAM Have a question about nutritional data? Let us know.
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