Chinese Lion's Head Soup

Born in OKC
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2010/02/17 08:37:27 (permalink)

Chinese Lion's Head Soup

Maybe I should preface this note with the comment that I have a little more adventerous tastes than some.  I have been to some ethinic restaurants where the wait staff asks, "Have you had that before?" or just say flatly, "You not like that." when I order a something that most Americans don't order.
There is a Chinese dish, "Lion's Head," which is basically a seasoned pork meatball or meatballs surrounded by shredded cabbage and simmered or steamed in broth.   I've seen it in cookbooks more often than on menus.  (You GOOGLE "lion's head" and get 60,000 plus hits  and probably more if the search term is "Four Happiness Meatball Soup: which seems to be the name for the northern version of the dish.)  The meatball is imagined to be a lion's head and the cabbage the mane.  One of my favorite local Chinese restaurants has a hot pot on the menu that sounds similar and I tried it recently after asking if it was lion's head and being told "yes."  
I was very disappointed.  The cabbage I expected was all or mostly chopped leeks and too far up the green end of the stalk to be very good.  There was a considerable addition of glass noodle and soft tofu and even whole mushrooms in the soup  for - I am guessing - textural variation.  Worst of all, there were several chunks of more or less fresh pork belly and the dominant flavor was the boiled pork belly.
Thinking about this, I believe I could enjoy the dish with more vegetables such as the glass noodle and mushrooms and even the substitution of leeks,  But the pork belly?  I have eaten Chinese and Korean versions of steamed pork belly several times and enjoyed the dish.  I've never run into such strongly flavored pork belly before.   As it was, it was on the edge, or past the edge, of being unpalatable because of the strongly flavored pork belly which had probably been held too long.
I would like to hear from others who have eaten "lion's head."  Did your dish have pork belly?  And a related question:  have you ever ordered steamed pork belly and been served a bad piece of meat?

4 Replies Related Threads

    Double Chili Cheeseburger
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    Re:Chinese Lion's Head Soup 2010/02/17 12:30:03 (permalink)
    I have had chicken in a Yunan pot, but not Lion's Head soup. I haven't seen it at any of the local places around here.
    Lucy Ho's Chinese Cookbook, which I bought from Dover Publications years ago has the recipe.But it's ground pork with seasonings, and cabbage and that's it.No noodles, etc.
    Most recipes I have seen for it entail cabbage and ground pork, no porkbelly and that's it.No noodles,etc.
    In my book there are a couple of recipes for a Chrysatemum Hot Pot and another hot pot.
    Meat and vegetables are sliced rather thin and put on seperate plates.Can't recall if noodles are involved. A pot of chicken broth  is placed on the table,and chacoal supplies the heat.The chinese have special pans for this,or you can use a chafing dish. The meat and vegetables a dunked into the hot broth till quickly cooked and eaten.At the end, a raw egg is broken into your bowl, and the savory broth poured on to, to poach the egg,or you could stir the egg around, like for egg drop soup.
    But that doesn't sound like what you had.
    Never had steamed pork belly, most restaurants around San Antonio don't serve it, unless maybe on the chinese language menu for chinese customers.
    The use of bad pork belly sounds to me like they want to get their money's worth out of the meat.
    Filet Mignon
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    Re:Chinese Lion's Head Soup 2010/11/22 04:13:50 (permalink)
    Considering these posts are 5 years old, maybe nobody cares any more but yeah, I've had Lion's Head and they aren't that uncommon in San Francisco Chinese places.  I had them at Shanghai Dumpling King on Balboa.  A photo of their Lionshead soup can be seen at
    post edited by BT - 2010/11/22 04:16:01
    Junior Burger
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    Re:Chinese Lion's Head Soup 2010/11/23 01:04:28 (permalink)
    Yay!it  looks like a Takuyaki food... the only difference is, the "lion's head" has a soup..
    Junior Burger
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    Re:Chinese Lion's Head Soup 2010/12/26 17:52:38 (permalink)
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