Lion’s Head Soup-Yang Zhou Shizitou – Canh Bún Tầu kiểu Thượng Hài

Vietnamese food



Lion head  is a Shanghai’s specialty.  A oversize meatball represents  a lion and  ruffle cabbage and mung bean vermicelli as its mane.  The mung bean vermicelli is a fine shiny and can hold it shape in the broth for a long time even overnight.  It is considered a good luck food on the Lunar New Year.  This recipe is base on Cecilia Chiang ‘s.

Make 6-8  servings in a multiple courses meal

1 lb ground pork
1 Asian Shallot, minced about 2 Tbs
2-3 green onion, white part minced, green part thinly sliced separated.
2 medium garlic cloves, minced about 1 tsp
4 oz canned water chestnut, diced
1 Tbs soy sauce
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground black or white pepper and plus more for garnish
2 tsp Shaoxing wine
1 Tbs cornstarch
3 cup chicken broth
12 oz napa cabbage  about 1/2 medium head)
2 oz mung bean vermicelli
2 Tbs vegetable oil

  1. Add shallot, white part of onion, garlic, salt, sugar , pepper in a medium bowl and crush them with a pestle or mallet into a paste .   Add wine, pork, water chestnut, soy sauce and cornstarch into the bowl with the paste and mix with the fingers until well combined and form a large ball.  Throw pork into the bowl about 3 minutes the pork becomes compact and sticky.  Cook 1/2-1/4 tsp of mixture in microwave  or fry in a pan with a little oil to taste. Divide into 4 to make 4 meatballs.  
  2. Soak vermicelli in hot water until soft about 10-15 minutes and keep them in soaking water until use.
  3. Wash and drain cabbage.  Cut the leaves into 4 lengthwise and then cut them crosswise into 3 sections.  Keep thick stems separated.  Wash and cut green onion.  Dice water chestnut.
  4. Preheat oil a medium skillet (8 inches) over medium high heat.  When the oil is shimmering, reduce the heat to medium and add meatballs. Brown meatballs all sides about 4-6 minutes.  If the meat brown too fast, reduce the heat to medium low. 
  5. Line the bottom of a medium saucepan with cut up thick cabbage stems.  Add meatballs, pour chicken broth. over meatballs.  The chicken broth should cover the meatballs if not transfer the meatballs into a smaller saucepan.  Bring it to a boil and reduce heat down to simmer.  Cover and cook about 10 minutes.  Add cut up cabbage, bring it up to a boil, and reduce heat down to simmer, cover, cook until the meatballs is cooked through (the center should be145 oF or no pink) and the cabbage tender about 10 minutes more. 
  6. Drain the vermicelli and add to the saucepan.  Bring it to a boil.  Remove from heat. 
  7. Arrange the meatballs on the top of cabbage and noodle, sprinkle green onion and ground pepper.  Serve immediately.  Store leftover in the fridge and reheat later.  The vermicelli may soak up more broth when sitting in the broth overnight.  Add more chicken broth if needed. 

*Note:

    • The pork can be divided into smaller meatballs and angel hair or small shape pasta as stars or letters will make a wonderful soup specially for kids.
    • A whole egg or egg yolk can be added to the meatball. 
    • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce can replace salt in meatball. 

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