Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I keep seeing this recipe, and I am dying to try it, because I love the name and because it sounds wonderful. I think just about every country in the world has some version of this recipe. My mother in law makes cabbage stuffed with ground beef or venison, rice, and tomatoes, then braised in a ginger-garlic-tomato sauce. It's classic Polish food.

This is an Asian variation on that theme. I have seen Rachel Ray make it, I have seen recipes on just about every food website I've ever seen for it, and they were talking about it on The Splendid Table on National Public Radio this weekend. I'm sure there are simpler versions of this, and I'm not sure what you would use for substitutions for some of the more unusual ingredients, but I have great faith in my readers.

My mother is still here, by the way, which is why I am so brief.

Lion's Head

1 large head (about 1-1/2 pounds) napa cabbage
4 ounces bean-thread (cellophane) noodles
1 pound lean ground pork
1/4 cup (about 4 ounces) drained and finely minced canned water chestnuts
1 tablespoon minced green onions, white part only
1 tablespoon peeled, minced fresh ginger
3 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons premium soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup water

1. Trim off the root end of the cabbage head and reserve. Quarter the leaves lengthwise and then cut them again crosswise into thirds. Set aside.
2. To prepare the noodles, pour hot water over the bean-thread noodles in a bowl, and let them soak until they are soft, about 15 minutes. Keep the noodles in the water until ready to use, as they tend to dry out quickly.
3. To form the meatballs, combine the pork, water chestnuts, green onions, ginger, 2 teaspoons of the salt, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, wine, and white pepper in a bowl. Using your hands, gently mix all of the ingredients together until well combined. Don't overmix or the pork will become gummy. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet. Using a 1/2-cup measure, loosely form the pork into 4-ounce balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Set aside.
4. Line a plate with paper towels and have it ready near the cooktop. Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat until a bead of water dances on the surface and then evaporates. Cover the bottom of the skillet with a thin film of the oil and swirl to coat. Arrange the meatballs in a single layer in the bottom of the pan, but do not overcrowd them (depending on the size of your pan, you might need to cook the meatballs in several batches). Decrease the heat to medium and cook the meatballs, turning with tongs to cook evenly, until all sides are well browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to the prepared plate. Repeat this process for as many batches as needed.
5. Put the reserved root ends of the cabbage in the bottom of a large saucepan. Gently place the meatballs on top and pour over the chicken broth and the 1/2 cup of water. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, decrease the heat to medium-low, and simmer the mixture, uncovered, until it has cooked down a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the cut-up cabbage leaves and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and continue to simmer until the meatballs are cooked thorough and the cabbage is tender, about 10 minutes more.
6. Drain the noodles, add to the saucepan with the remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, and stir to combine well. Remove the pan from the heat.
7. To serve, arrange the meatballs on top of the cabbage and noodles on a platter. Serve immediately.

1 comment:

Neen said...

Oh lovely! I dig the chinese variation, especially since cabbage itself is so amenable to chinese flavors. I took a shot at stuffed cabbage for Purim this year, but skipped the Eastern European Jewish version (seemed too bland) for a vegetarian Indian version. It was great! I think it even made it into our blog's "All Time Favorites" category.