It’s Chinese New Year today and we are going to bust open our fortune cookies and have a great celebration of Chinese food today.
I’ve always been told that American Chinese food isn’t really Chinese food at all. I believe this to be 99% true, in the way that Olive Garden isn’t Italian. Sure it’s still pasta and sauce, but the delivery probably isn’t anywhere near close to traditional.
But lucky me (or unlucky) my family didn’t do Chinese takeout growing up. I don’t remember having it. Ever. It was late into my teen years before I ever bit into a carry out stale and soggy crab rangoon, and not long there after that a great friend of mine took me for dumplings in China town, NYC.
Now, I am ignorant on the subject of what makes a dish traditional and what makes it American “Chinese food” so I am not even going to begin to pretend that this post is in any way authentic, however, it was a blast to make and fun to share my weird blogging-ness with family for this Chinese New Year’s themed spread.
I am kicking things off with Lion’s Head Meatballs, a recipe I have wanted to try for years. The idea of giant pork meatballs packed with crisp Asian flavors and simmered in a coconut bath had me salivating. I bookmarked it and would occasional revisit the idea. It took this wonderful occasion as the reason for me to finally give a trial run for these bad boys.
Lion’s Head Meatballs
From My Recipes.com
For the Coconut Sauce:
- 1/2 cup light coconut milk
- 1/2 cup soy milk
- 2 tbs minced peeled fresh ginger
- 2 tbs minced hot red chile pepper
- 1 tbs chopped green onions
- 2 tbs Thai fish sauce
For the Meatballs:
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1/3 cup chopped scallions
- 1/4 cup chopped water chestnuts
- 2 tbs cornstarch
- 1 tbs all-purpose flour
- 1 tbs minced peeled fresh ginger
- 1 tbs low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tbs dark sesame oil
- 1 teas minced hot red chile pepper
- 1/4 teas salt
- 1 tbs vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 tbs grated lemon rind
Combine first 6 ingredients, the ones for the coconut sauce in a medium sized saucepan.
To prepare meatballs, combine ground pork through salt in a large bowl, and shape mixture into 8 meatballs. Remember, these babies are supposed to be big.
In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add 1 tbs vegetable oil until shimmering. Add meatballs; cook 7 minutes, browning on all sides. Place meatballs on a plate lined with paper towels to drain well.
Meanwhile, bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat. When the meatballs have browned on all sides, add meatballs to sauce; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes. Check one with a pairing knife for doneness.
Garnish with basil and rind
I kept the overall meal relatively mild as far as pepper and spice goes. When I make these again, I will add some red curry paste to the coconut milk, and more pepper to the meatballs. Once again, I am not educated in Chinese cuisine, but I feel that with a name like Lion’s head, it should have bark and bite.