• Lion's head meatballs (Adam Liaw)Source: Adam Liaw

The shape of these giant meatballs is supposed to resemble a lion’s head and the green vegetables around it, the mane. Destination Flavour China 






Skill level

Average: 3.5 (95 votes)


  • 1 litre oil, for frying
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 litre chicken stock or water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 8 green pak choy, halved lengthways 


  • 750 g pork mince
  • 2-3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 80 g (½ cup) peeled water chestnuts, diced
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp cornflour, plus extra to dust
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • ½ tsp salt
  • pinch of ground white pepper

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


1. For the meatballs, place all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix together, stirring well in only one direction. Using damp hands, shape the mixture into 4 very large meatballs.

2. Heat the oil for frying in a wok to 170°C.

3. Dust the meatballs in cornflour and fry for 5 minutes or until well browned all over.

4. Transfer the meatballs to a heavy-based saucepan or baking dish. Add the soy sauces, sugar and enough stock or water to cover the meatballs.

5. Cover with a lid and bring to a simmer. Simmer over low heat for 1 hour, then remove the lid and simmer for another 45-60 minutes or until the sauce is thickened and glossy.

6. Bring a separate saucepan or wok of water to the boil, then add the oil to the water. Season the water with a little salt and a pinch of sugar. Cook the pak choy for 1-2 minutes or just until tender, then drain well.

7. To serve, arrange the meatballs on a deep plate. Arrange the pak choy around the outside of the meatballs. Pour the braising liquid over the meatballs until they are moistened and glossy.


Photography by Adam Liaw.

Destination Flavour China with Adam Liaw airs 7.30pm, Wednesday on SBS and then on SBS On Demand. Visit the program page for recipes, videos and more.