Mushy lion's head mixture

I quadrupled fuchsia dunlop’s recipe for lion’s head meatballs. I’m intending to make both the version in broth, and the red cooked version. At the point where you add water, eggs whites, and cornstarch slurry my mixture got very loose and wet. I’m not sure I can form them into ball shape as it is. It may be that quadrupling the recipes exactly doesn’t really work? I’m draining the mix in a colander overnight in the fridge to see if that helps. I fried up a small patty and when cooked it held its shape and was very tasty.

Since these are not European style meatballs bound with a panade or breadcrumbs, I’m not sure what to do. Add flour? More starch? Freeze the mixture until it’s firm enough to handle? And for the red braised version, are they going to splatter all over me and the kitchen in the preliminary frying?

Thanks in advance.

I do not have her recipe but when I make dumpling like siomai or pot sticker, I often add a tablespoon or 2 of sweet potato starch ( depending on the quantity I am making), that helps it from falling apart.

Where did you find this recipe? I don’t seem to have it in my Dunlop books, but I don’t own all of them.

The recipe that I have used for this dish in the past no longer seems to exist online, but though I remember the mixture was wet, it did hold together. It also didn’t involve any frying of the meat before tucking into the oven with broth.

I didn’t have the Dunlop’s version. I made the “Lion head” many times with success, it is translated from a Chinese recipe.

Steamed Meat Balls with Chinese Radish

Ingredients for 4
0.5 catty minced pork (half fat, half lean)
1.5 cups chicken stock
0.5 catty Chinese radish
3 tbsp corn flour

0.5 tsp salt
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp Shaoxing wine
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp grated ginger
1 tbsp chopped spring onion
1 tbsp oil

1/ Place minced pork in a large bowl. In 3 to 4 batches, slowly pour in 1/2 cup of chicken stock, and stir well in one direction with chopsticks. Stir in seasonings and put it in the fridge for 2 hours.

2/ Wash, peel and cut Chinese radish into small cubes. Blanch for 1 minute in boiling water. Rinse with cold water and drain. Place in a bowl.

3/ Divide pork into 4 equal portions. Roll each one into a ball and dust with corn flour. Place them on top of radish balls. Add salt and 1 cup of chicken stock. Cover and steam for 1 hour.
(Personally, I cook everything directly in a pot for 15 to 20 minutes.)

It is a very tiring exercise as you need to stir with chopsticks the minced meat in 1 direction until it absorbs all the chicken stock and it starts to have a sticky texture (cannot be done by machine). I think if egg is involved like in your recipe, you apply it after you have made the meatball, brush them with egg mixture and then with corn flour, before frying the meatball, followed by cooking them with broth. Personally I never brown them, as they were too fragile to be moved around.

You need to be careful with adding broth to the meat, always small batches and mix well between the batches until all broth is absorbed, if not they becomes too wet and unusable.

I cannot find Dunlop’s recipe
I follow my mother’s recipe in making my dumplings, always adding a little bit of sweet potato starch to keep them from falling apart. Since I usually make a big batch and freeze them, I use about 1-2 tablespoon of SPS ( the fine texture as oppose to the coarser texture ones. )
Do y ou have SERIOUS EATS recipe?
They add cornstarch as binder. Small amount makes a big difference. You cannot even taste it.
Incidentally, I like to use TAO KWA ( Chinese calls it Lao Tao Kwa meaning very old) when I make spring rolls and if available for my dumplings . I use Costco’s firm organic tofu only to make Ma Po Tofu . The Chinese has a saying to stop someone from repeating and hashing over a topic again and again, they say THE MORE TOFU, THE MORE WATER.
I also use Jicama instead of water chestnut as it could be expensive buying cans of water chestnuts for my dumplings. In addition, Jicama is so delicious eaten as it is, with or without salt and even with cider vinegar. This trick I also learned from my mother. <img
This is an image of Tao Kwa or To Kqwa ( pronunciation is dependent on dialect) though it is not the same brand available room the DC metro area.
It is wonderful not only for spring rolls but for braised ) Tokwa stuffed with pork. Also one of my favorites.
src="//" width=“700” height=“393”>

Uploading did not see picture,

Here is another try

How much is a catty?

Less than a doggy; more than a mousey.</tongue in cheek>


Good question.

1 catty = 604 gram = 1.33 pound


Damn, I learn a lot of things here I wasn’t expecting to learn. Thank you!

1 Like

Well that’s unfortunate, in view of the common rumors of Chinese restaurants in American using alley cats in their food. Perhaps it’s the SOURCE of that tale.

It’s in her latest book, land of fish and rice.

I haven’t bought this one yet. Thanks for responding… and how are the meatballs coming along?

Well, phew! The mix was cold enough today to form into balls. The ones in the brothy prep held together but I felt they were just a bit too tender. If they were just slightly more firm this would have been my favorite of the two. The broth was so comforting.

The red cooked lions held their shape better. I baked them instead of frying them, afraid of splatter from the wet mix, and I think the reduced sauce helped firm them up. I just tend to have a heavy hand with soy sauce, and was in no mood to measure so they were a little too salty.

I give myself a b+ on both, and for the future I’ll know when to stop adding the wet ingredients by touch.


I didn’t know that it was an imperial dish. The origin of the “lion head” can be traced in this dish: