Lion’s Head Casserole (or Shi Tzu Tou)

Serves: 4

Lion’s Head Casserole (or Shi Tzu Tou)
Lion’s Head Casserole (or Shi Tzu Tou) Lion’s Head Casserole (or Shi Tzu Tou)

Before I am reported for crimes against nature let me reassure everyone that the Lion (or Shi Tzu) in the title of this recipe refers to the  resemblance of the finished dish to said lion. I can’t see it myself although the tumble of shredded Chinese cabbage may look a bit like a lion’s mane. Anyway, the point is this is one of those Chinese dishes that doesn’t look like much on paper, nor does it photograph particularly well, but it is so often exactly what I want to eat. Filling but not heavy, flavoursome without being challenging. A few months ago my cousins kindly passed on my aunt’s recipe notes for me to browse and I came across her handwritten notes for this recipe. I have made a few changes –shiitake mushrooms aren’t usually included but I love them and will include them whenever possible.


40g dried shiitake mushrooms
  1. 500g pork mince
  2. 4 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
  3. 4cm piece root ginger, peeled and finely grated
  4. 3 ½ tablespoons light soy sauce
  5. ½ tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  6. 3 tablespoons cornflour
  7. 1 medium egg, beaten
  8. 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  9. 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
  10. 1 head Chinese cabbage, sliced
  11. 450ml chicken stock
  12. To serve Toasted sesame oil
Lion’s Head Casserole (or Shi Tzu Tou)


  1. Put the shiitake  mushrooms in a bowl and pour over boiling water to cover. Leave to soak for at least four hours.
  2. Put the pork mince in a mixing bowl and add spring onions, grated ginger, 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, 2 tablespoons of the cornflour, egg and a pinch or two of salt. Mix everything really well and shape into eight large balls. The mix is quite sloppy so the meatballs won’t hold their shape very well. Place on a tray and chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Mix the remaining tablespoon of cornflour with the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 2 tablespoons water. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a frying pan. Dip each meatball into the cornflour/soy liquid and carefully place in the frying pan. Don’t discard the leftover cornflour mix-it will be used to thicken the casserole. Fry the meatballs for about 8 minutes, turning them carefully a few times so they brown evenly. Take off the heat.
  4. Drain the shiitake mushrooms and finely slice. Heat the remaining oil in a large casserole and add the garlic, cabbage and shiitake mushrooms. Stir-fry for about 5 minutes until the cabbage starts to wilt. Add the meatballs to the casserole and pour over the chicken stock. Bring to the boil then cover and turn the heat right down. Simmer for one hour.
  5. Stir the leftover cornflour/soy mix into the casserole and cook for 1-2 minutes until slightly thickened. Take off the heat and drizzle over a little sesame oil just before serving.
Lion’s Head Casserole (or Shi Tzu Tou)