Lions Head Meatballs are a famous Shanghainese treat and make a perfect party food! We decided to use ground turnkey because we were already cooking pork ribs and eggrolls. They came out delicious and we didn’t miss the pork or beef.
Get ground dark meat if you can because it’s a little more moist and flavorful than the white meat. In a large bowl, mix everything with meat besides the cornstarch, eggs, panko and bok choy.
Mix the eggs and cornstarch and then add mixture. You will want to use a fork or a spoon because the mixture will get very sticky. After mixing well, add the panko and stir to incorporate well.
Heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large skillet to about 325 degrees. I always just heat until a wooden spoon bubbles when inserted into the oil! While the oil is heating up, arrange bok choy leaves in a large pot with lid.
Spoon rounds of the turkey mixture and gently drop into the oil. Brown the meatballs and flip to evenly brown both sides. You will need to do this in a few batches. Don’t worry about cooking the meat because they will be steamed next! Don’t overcrowd the pan, the meatballs will not brown as nicely because the oil temperature will drop!
Arrange the browned meatballs in the large pot on top of the bok choy and pour some sake or chicken stock or even water over to create steam.
Cover the pot and cook over low to medium low heat for 30-40 minutes. Plate the meatballs over the bok choy and garnish with some fresh baby bok choy! The meatballs are a little sweat so a spicy or salty dipping sauce works great with these. We put a little soy sauce and sambal oelek (garlic chili paste).
Nom nom nom meatballs!
Lion's Head Turkey Meatballs
• 1 pound ground dark meat turkey
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 tablespoon shaoxing cooking wine, mirin, or sake
• 2 tablespoons soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon sesame oil
• 1 green onion, chopped finely
• 1 teaspoon minced ginger
• 3 cloves of garlic, minced
• 3 large eggs, beaten
• 1/4 cup corn starch
• 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
• 1 pound bok choy, stems trimmed but otherwise intact
• 1/2 cup sake, chicken stock, or water
1. Combine everything but the eggs, starch, and bok choy together in a large bowl and mix well.
2. Beat the eggs and cornstarch and add, mixing again to incorporate.
3. The mixture will seem extremely liquid at first — just continue to mix and the egg will gradually absorb into the pork, leaving a thick porridge-like mixture. If you want rounder and firmer meatballs that you can shape with your hands, use two eggs instead of three. I thought this yielded meatballs that were lovely and tender, so I used three.
4. Pour enough oil to coat the bottom of a large heavy skillet with about 2 inches of oil and heat over medium.
5. Drop large spoonful’s of meat mixture into the pan in a single layer, making sure not to crown the pan
6. Let meatballs sizzle in the pan for 2 to 3 minutes or until browned, then flip and cook the other side.
7. Once the meatball is browned on both sides (it doesn’t have to be cooked through), remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. You will likely have to fry in two batches.
8. Once all the meatballs are browned, line the bottom of a large pot with the bok choy leaves and pour sake over the top.
9. Place the meatballs on top and turn the heat to medium-low.
10. Cover and let steam for 30 to 40 minutes, or until bok choy leaves have wilted and the stems are tender. Serve with rice!