Recipe from Simple Asian Meals by Nina Simonds (Rodale Books, 2012)
Lion's Head is a traditional slow-braised stew from eastern China made with ground pork meatballs and Napa cabbage. For my speedier version, which takes less than half the prep time, I sear ground chicken or turkey meatballs mixed with the fragrant seasonings and cook them briefly in chicken broth with baby bok choy. It's one of those intoxicatingly good mommy foods that tastes even better when reheated.
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 pound baby bok choy or Napa cabbage, rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 1/2 cup rice wine or sake
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth, preferably low-sodium
- 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1. Put the ground chicken and Seasonings in a bowl and mix to thoroughly combine. Dip your hands in water and shape the mixture into 6 plump ovals.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons minced scallion greens
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine or sake
- 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
2. Trim the stem tips from the bok choy, cut an inch off the tips of the leaves, and discard. Cut lengthwise in half if large. Put the bok choy in the sink in water to cover and rinse thoroughly, since it is often sandy. Drain thoroughly. If using Napa cabbage, cut off the tough ends and discard. Cut lengthwise in half and cut the leaves into 2-inch squares. Separate the stem sections from the leafy ones.
3. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or covered casserole dish over high heat until very hot, about 30 seconds. Slide the chicken balls into the pan, cover and sear on both sides until golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Lower the heat, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove the chicken balls from the pan and drain out a little of the oil.
4. Add the baby bok choy (if using cabbage, add the stem sections), garlic, and rice wine and stir-fry over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, chicken balls, and leafy sections of the cabbage and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the cabbage is tender. Add the soy sauce and salt and skim the top to remove any impurities. Serve hot.
VARIATION: Add 1 cup blanched and coarsely chopped water chestnuts to the chicken balls for additional crunch.
Bok choy, and all members of the cruciferous family, contains phytonutrients that may lower the risk of cancer. It also contains vitamins A and C, and is an excellent source of fiber.