Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lucky Fuzhou Noodles with Jackfruit and Chile Garlic Sauce







     Spicy Tropical Fruit Flavor Lucky Noodles!
     Chinese Fuzhou Noodles are also called Lucky Noodles.  Lucky Noodles bring good luck and fortune to those who eat them!
     Fuzhou Noodles are very thin and they must be handled carefully.  After cooking, these noodles become elastic and durable.  The Fuzhou Noodle making process involves using lye water.  The Alkaline flavor can be tasted after cooking.  This flavor triggers taste bud sensors in an interesting way.
     Jackfruit is native to Southeast Asia and India.  Jackfruit has a nice starchy tart banana flavor that goes well with a chile pepper sauce.
     Jackfruit can grow to an enormous size.  Produce workers at Asian food markets usually package pieces of Jackfruit that weigh a few pounds.  Jackfruit is one of the few fruits that cans well.  Canned Jackfruit actually looks like fresh cooked Jackfruit.  A can of Jackfruit is an option for those who cannot find it fresh.

     Lucky Fuzhou Noodles with Jackfruit and Chile Garlic Sauce:  
     This recipe yields 1 serving.
     Step 1:  Keep a pot water boiling over medium high heat, so the Fuzhou noodles can be cooked later in the recipe.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan or mini wok over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Add 7 cloves of chopped garlic.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Sauté till the garlic starts to turn a golden color.
     Step 3:  Add 1 cup of coarsely chopped Jackfruit.
     Briefly sauté till the Jackfruit becomes aromatic.
     Step 4:  Add 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of pure sesame oil.
     Add 2 tablespoons of Coarse Red Chile Sambal.  (Koran Chile Sambal looks like a paste of crushed coarse red serrano chile pepper.)
     Add 2 tablespoons of Sriracha.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Add 1 pinch of 5 spice powder.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.
     Add 1 tablespoon of honey.
     Step 5:   Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a medium thin consistency.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.
     Step 6:  Place 1 portion of Chinese Fuzhou Noodles in the pot of boiling water.  (The Fuzhou Noodles are very thin and they only take a few seconds to cook!)
     Drain the water off of the noodles.
     Step 7:  Shock the noodles in ice water, to give them a chewy texture.
     Drain the ice water off of the noodles.
     Step 8:  Add the Fuzhou Noodles to the sauce in the pan.
     Toss the noodles and sauce together.
     Place the noodles in a bowl.  Try to expose some of the Jackfruit pieces on top of the noodles.
     Garnish with cilantro leaves.

     Spicy and delicious! 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Chinese Beef Cabbage Rolls in Shiitake Enoki Chicken Broth







     Savory Cabbage Rolls!
     The flavor of today's savory stuffed cabbage recipe is definitely warm and cozy.  The light chicken broth is full of mushroom flavor.  The beef and rice stuffing is seasoned with Chinese Five Spice Powder.
     Chinese style stuffed cabbage can be made with minced pork or just about any kind of meat.  Fish, crab and even a vegetable mousseline can be used to stuff Napa Cabbage.  There are always options for stuffed cabbage recipes that will suit anybody's fancy.    

    *This entire recipe yields 1 entrée that can be shared!
  
     Napa Cabbage Leaf Preparation:
     Boil some water that is about 2" deep in a wide sauté pan.
     Place 4 large undamaged whole napa cabbage leaves in the boiling water.
     Blanch the napa cabbage leaves, till they start to wilt and so they are just tender enough to bend the stalk end.
     Remove the cabbage leaves from the boiling water.
     Cool the cabbage leaves under cold running water.
     Pat the leaves dry with a pastry towel.
     Set the blanched cabbage leaves aside.
  
     Five Spice Beef Stuffing:
     The amount of stuffing that is needed depends on the size of the cabbage leaves!  The rice can be used to stretch the amount of beef if necessary.  There may be a little bit of leftover rice after the cabbage rolls are made. 
     Those who have a rice steamer surely know how to put it to use.  The proportion of water is less when using a steamer.
     Step 1:  Boil 1 cup of water over high heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of plain long grain white rice.
     When the water returns to a boil, reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Simmer and steam the rice, till it is fully cooked.
     Let the rice cool to room temperature.
     Step 2:  Place 5 ounces of ground beef in a mixing bowl.
     Add an equal volume of the cooked rice.  (There may be some rice leftover!)
     Add sea salt.
     Add 3 pinches of Chinese five spice powder.
     Thoroughly mix the ingredients together.
     Set the stuffing aside.
  
     Chinese Beef Cabbage Rolls:
     Lay the blanched napa cabbage leaves side by side on a counter top.
     Place a small amount of the beef stuffing on the "leafy" end of each cabbage leaf.  (A 2 1/2 ounce to 3 ounce scooper can be used.)
     Fold the sides of the leaf over the stuffing.
     Roll the stuffing and cabbage leaf into a sealed cylinder shape.  Be sure that the stuffing is completely sealed inside the cabbage leaf.  If there is way too much cabbage on the stalk end, then trim a little bit off.  The cabbage rolls should all be the same size and shape.
     Chill the cabbage rolls till they are needed.
  
     Chinese Beef Cabbage Rolls in Shiitake Enoki Chicken Broth: 
     Step 1:  Place the stuffed cabbages side by side in a small sauce pot, so they do not unravel while cooking.
     Add 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth.
     Set the pan over medium heat.
     Step 2:  Add 1 clove of minced garlic.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 thin sliced large shiitake mushroom.
     Bring the broth to a gentle boil.
     Step 3:  Immediately reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Simmer the cabbage rolls in the broth, till the stuffing becomes fully cooked.  (The steam from the broth will cook the top half of the cabbage rolls.  About 10 to 15 minutes of simmering is enough to cook the stuffing.)
  
     Presentation:
     Place the cabbage rolls side by side in a large soup bowl.
     Skim any grease off of the top of the broth.
     Pour the mushrooms and broth around the cabbage rolls in the bowl.
     Place 2 small bunches of enoki mushrooms in the hot broth.
     Place a few cilantro leaves on the broth.
  
     Simple, comfortable and delicious!  

Banh Mi Dac Biet - Special Combo Banh Mi









     Vietnamese Banh Mi!  One of the first original Asian French fusion creations!
     Banh Mi has become popular in the last few years.  Banh Mi is a Vietnamese and French fusion sandwich that originated in Vietnam.  Banh Mi basically translates to "special bread."
     The bread is a French wheat flour mini baguette that is made with about 50% rice flour.  The rice flour creates a soft textured pith.  Men making the sandwich. the mini bread loaf is cut open and some of the bread pith is removed.  The bread is then stuffed with a mixture of traditional Vietnamese ingredients and French deli style ingredients.
     Banh Mi is part of the current street vendor style food craze.  When dining at a Banh Mi restaurant, it is common to see people eating a variety of several Banh Mi sandwiches for one meal.  One of the shops that I go to in Las Vegas offers a "Buy 5, Get One Free" special!  That is a good deal and a lot of good Banh Mi munch!

     Vegetable Banh Mi is the most popular.  Banh Mi can be made with pâté, lunch meats, pork, fish, meat balls, sausage, tofu or whatever suits the fancy.  
     There are only a few restrictive rules for making Banh Mi.  Dairy products, like cheese, are rarely offered on a Banh Mi Sandwich, because dairy products are not really part of Asian cuisine.  Daikon Radish garnishes nearly every kind of Banh Mi.  These are just about the only rules to the Banh Mi game!

     Only a small portion of meat is placed on a Banh Mi Sandwich.  Vegetables make up the bulk of the ingredients.  Mayonnaise is another French component.  Mayo is spread on most deli meat Banh Mi sandwiches.
     Lunchmeat Banh Mi are almost always made with canned lunch meats that are available at Asian markets.  Chicken Liver Banh Mi is almost always made with canned chicken liver pâté spread.  Sardine Banh Mi is usually made with canned sardines in tomato sauce.  As one can see, authentic Banh Mi making does favor canned meat products and the reason is canned meats have a long shelf life.
     Fresh deli meats can be used, but this would raise the price of the sandwich dramatically.  A foot long Banh Mi currently sells for less than $3.25 in Las Vegas Banh Mi shops, so if you want to compete, you gotta go cheap!
     Vietnamese herbs can take the place of lettuce or cabbage on a Banh Mi.  Cilantro is a popular choice.  Sliced tomato and onion are sometimes placed on Banh Mi, but Daikon Radish, Carrot, Jalapeño and Cabbage garnishes are more popular.

     I made a special trip to a local Asian food market to get a few ingredients to make today's Special Combo Banh Mi.  Asian markets carry many interesting specialty items.  I found vacuum sealed packages of marinated seasoned daikon radish strips.  The flavor of the marinated radish is incredibly good and it tastes great on a sandwich!
     I also purchased a small package of Hopia Hapon as an accompaniment.  Hopia Snack Cakes originated in the Philippines and Fiji.  Hopia Hapon translates to Japanese Hopia.  Hopia is like a fancy Fig Newton, but it is filled with sweet bean paste or bread crumbs & candied fruit.  The Hopia Hapon that I chose is filled with sweet adzuki bean paste.  Hopia Hapon are usually pressed into fancy shapes that many readers will recognize as Moon Cakes for the Lunar New Year celebration.

     A Special Combo Banh mi is made with Head Cheese and Pork Loaf or Ham.  I used Indiana Bolshevic Loaf Head Cheese to make today's sandwich.  Any head cheese variety can be used and any thin sliced pork lunch meat can be used.  I opted for Bulgarian style dry cured lightly smoked pork neck lunch meat for the Special Combo Banh Mi in the photos.  This is a bit fancy, but fancy is always good!
   
     Banh Mi Dac Biet - Special Combo Banh Mi:
     This recipe yields 1 sandwich!  
     Banh Mi bread is a French baguette that is made with half rice flour and half wheat flour.  Making home made Banh Mi Baguettes is not hard to do.  Banh Mi can be made with regular small French Baguettes too. 
     Canned lunch meats are traditional.  The total amount of lunch meat on a Banh Mi sandwich should only be about 2 ounces.  Fresh lunch meats are okay too.  
     Step 1:  Cut open a 10" to 12" Banh Mi Baguette.  The opening should be cut at a 45º angle vertically into the bread, so the ingredients can be stuffed into the loaf.
     Open the bread with your fingers.
     Use your fingers to remove some of the pith.
     Step 2:  Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise inside of the bread loaf.
     Step 3:  Place a thin layer of vegetable garnishes on the sandwich.
     *Any combination of shredded daikon radish, sliced jalapeño, shredded carrot, onion, shredded cabbage or baby lettuce is good.  Even cilantro sprigs can be used as a garnish.
     Step 4:  Place a few thin slices of head cheese on the sandwich.  (About 1 ounce to 1 1/2 ounces.)
     Place a few thin slices of pork lunch meat on the sandwich.  (About 1 ounce to 1 1/2 ounces.)
     Place some marinated daikon radish slices on the lunch meats.  (optional)
     Place some thin sliced cherry tomatoes on the lunch meats.  (optional)
     Step 5:  Place the sandwich on a plate.
     Garnish with pickles or fruit of your choice.
     *The plate in the photos was garnished with a strawberry and a Hopia Hapon Moon Cake.
   
     One Special Combo Banh Mi coming right up!  

Five Spice Salmon & Sesame Bok Choy Slaw Sandwich









     A Healthy American Diner Style Fusion Sandwich!
     From a health standpoint, alternative sandwiches like today's salmon sandwich are not a bad choice.  Sliced deli meat sandwiches or hamburgers are heavy on the fat end of the scale, especially if a mayonnaise spread is slathered on the bread.  Lighter food is easier on the digestive system, especially when hot summer temperatures roll around.  Today's American diner style Asian fusion sandwich is light and healthy!

     *This recipe yields 1 large diner style grilled sandwich!

     Sesame Bok Choy Slaw:
     Step 1:  Place 1 cup of thin sliced bok choy in a mixing bowl.
     Add a few thin red bell pepper strips for color.
     Add 1 thin sliced green onion.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar.
     Add 2 teaspoons of water.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of pure sesame oil.
     Add 2 pinches of toasted sesame seed.
     Add 2 pinches of black sesame seed.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.
     Step 2:  Toss the ingredients together.
     Chill the slaw for 10 minutes so the flavors meld.
     Drain off the excess marinade shortly before serving.

     Five Spice Salmon:
     Step 1:  Cut a 5 ounce of salmon filet into wide 1/" thick slices.  (Cut across the grain of the meat at a 45º angle to create wide slices that cook quickly.)
     Step 2:  Place 1/4 cup of light fish broth in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1 ounce of water.
     Add 1 ounce of dry rice wine.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 2 pinches of Chinese five spice powder.
     Add sea salt.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Stir the ingredients before adding the flavored slurry later in the recipe.
     Step 3:  Heat a seasoned sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Place the salmon slices in the pan side by side.
     Sauté the salmon pieces on both sides, till a few light golden brown highlights appear.
     Step 3:  Add the reserved flavored cornstarch slurry.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil as it thickens.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it lightly glazes the fish.
     Keep the 5 spice salmon warm on a stove top.

     Five Spice Salmon & Sesame Bok Choy Slaw Sandwich:
     Brush 2 slices of whole grain bread with melted unsalted butter.  (Or a flavor infused vegetable oil.)
     Grill the bread on a cast iron griddle or sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     When the bread is toasted golden brown, place it on a cutting board.
     Place the five spice salmon on the bread.
     Place the sesame bok choy slaw on the salmon.
     Place the top half of the grilled bread on the sandwich and cut the sandwich in half.
     Set the sandwich halves on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with pickles of your choice.  
     * The plate in the pictures with Persian Pickled Wild Cucumber, pickled mild green chile pepper and green onion.

     American diner style comfort food fusion!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Classic Chinese American Pepper Steak!







     Old Fashioned Pepper Steak!
     Pepper steak is occasionally still found on Chinese American style restaurant menus.  It is usually offered as a lunch special, because pepper steak only takes about five minutes to prepare from scratch.  Chinese American restaurants offer the best pepper steak entrees, because traditional Chinese cooking techniques are used to make the entrée.  Al dente cooked vegetables are required for good pepper steak!

     Many casual American diner style restaurants had pepper steak on the menu many years ago.  The pepper steak version in those restaurants was not very good most times.  Really poor quality pepper steak can be found at greasy spoon diners and cheap buffet restaurants.  The pepper steak at these kind of restaurants is worth avoiding!  The peppers and vegetables are usually way overcooked and the Pepper Steak is nothing like the original recipe.  Mushy green bell peppers, chewy beef and thickened soy sauce is not exactly a good example of Pepper Steak!  

     The original Pepper Steak recipe was a Chinese American creation that became popular in the post war era late 1940's.  Fresh tomato wedges were added to the beef and peppers with a thicken soy sauce to create a zesty flavor that was irresistible to American customers.  
     Pepper steak is basically a stir fry wok recipe with a sauce that is made in the same pan.  All the ingredients must be prepared ahead of time, before the stir fry begins.  
     Sometimes I list the sauce ingredients separately in recipes.  An experienced Chinese chef will mix all the wet and dry sauce ingredients together with the corn starch to make a flavored slurry that can be added to the entrée all at one time.  This efficient technique is better for fast paced cooking, because the sauce will be more consistent.   

     Classic Chinese American Pepper Steak: 
     This recipe yields 1 large entrée.  
     This pepper steak recipe is as close to the original 1940's original version as it gets!  Be sure to prepare all the ingredients ahead of time, before starting to cook this stir fry style recipe.  
     Thin Soy Sauce is commonly used by Chinese chefs.  Thin Soy Sauce can be plain or flavored.  Thin Soy Sauce is thinner than table soy sauce.  Thin Soy Sauce is not as rich or salty as regular table soy sauce.  Thin Soy Sauce is very forgiving, especially if a little too much is added. 
     Step 1:  Cook 1 portion of plain white jasmine rice ahead of time and keep it warm on a stove top.
     Step 2:  Select an 8 ounce lean top round steak that is about 3/4" thick at a market.  (Flank steak, skirt steak, tri-tip steak or top sirloin steak can also be used.)
     Cut the top round steak into very thin slices across the grain of the meat at a 45º angle. 
     Place the beef in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar 
     Add 1 teaspoon of soy sauce.
     Allow the beef to marinate for 5 minutes.
     Step 3:  Mix these ingredients together to make a flavored slurry:
     • 1 tablespoon of corn starch
     • 1 tablespoon cold water
     • 2 tablespoons of thin soy sauce
     • 1/2 teaspoon of rice vinegar
     • sea salt and white pepper
     • 1 pinch of ground Szechuan Pepper
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Set the slurry aside and stir it just before adding it later in the recipe.
     Step 4:  Heat a sauté pan or wok over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil.  
     Add the thin slices of beef.
     Stir fry till the beef is lightly browned on both sides.
     Step 5:  Add 3 sliced garlic cloves.  (Sliced, not chopped!)
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced fresh ginger.
     Stir fry for a few seconds, till the garlic and ginger becomes aromatic.
     Step 6:  Add 1/5 cup of thin sliced onion strips.
     Add 1/5 cup of Chinese style sliced celery.  
     Add 1/2 of a large green bell pepper that is cut into thick strips.
     Add 1/2 of a large red bell pepper that is cut into thick strips.
     Stir fry, till the vegetables are halfway cooked.
     Step 7:  Add 1 cup of beef broth.
     When the liquid begins to boil, add the reserved flavored cornstarch slurry while stirring.  The sauce should thicken to a medium thin sauce consistency.
     Step 8:  Immediately reduce the temperature to medium low heat
     Add 5 thin fresh plum tomato wedges that have most of the seeds removed.
     Simmer the ingredients for about 1 minute, so the tomatoes start to become tender.
     *Check the consistency of the sauce.  If the sauce is too thick, then add a splash of water.
     
     Presentation:
     Toss the sauce and pepper steak ingredients together one last time.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place a ring of the plain white rice around the border of an oval plate.
     Mound the pepper steak in the on the center of the place in the ring of rice.
     No garnish is necessary!

     This is how pepper steak was made a long time ago.  Pepper steak is still a highly respected Chinese American recipe in this modern age, because it tastes great! 

Prickly Pear Cactus Flavor Cut Noodles en Rosebud Sesame Sweet Sour Sauce









     Cactus Fruit Cut Noodles With A Sauce That Accents The Favor!
     Today's noodle entrée has unique flavors that appeal to the ladies in the crowd!  The presentation is simple and it is not complicated with extra items.  
     The traditional Asian method of shocking and rinsing boiled cut noodles does create a chewy texture.  The pleasant mild strawberry flavor of prickly pear cactus fruit can easily be noticed in the specialty noodles after shocking in ice water.  
     The sauce is delicately flavored and it compliments the flavor of the noodles.  Persian Arabic Rosebud Preserves were used to add sweet balance to the sauce.  Jars of Rosebud Preserves are sold at Mediterranean food markets.  Persian jellies, jams and preserves are high quality items.  The craftsmanship is a step above common national brand jellies that are sold in common grocery stores.  
     Middle East countries have a long history of preserving fruits and delicacies with honey.  After the introduction of sugar during the ages of spice trade, the same techniques were applied and the result was top notch.  
     If you are tired of the same old preserves and jelly flavors at a grocery store, then try the selection at a Mediterranean Market market.  Rosebud Preserves are a good example of a relatively unheard of preserves flavor in the western world.    

     *This entire recipe yields 1 serving!

     Toasted Sesame Seeds:
     The sesame seeds do not have to be toasted till they are brown!  They only need to be toasted till they become aromatic with a few light tan colored highlights.
     Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds.
     Constantly shake the pan, till the sesame seeds become aromatic and lightly toasted.
     Place the toasted sesame seeds in a small bowl.

     Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit Flavored Cut Noodles:
     These specialty noodles are usually sold fresh in packages of 10 portions at Korean food markets. Cut noodles are made by stacking sheets of noodle dough then slicing thin strips.
     Step 1:  Boil a pot of water over high heat.
     Add 1 portion of prickly pear cactus fruit flavored fresh cut noodles.
     Stir the noodles occasionally, till they are fully cooked.
     Step 2:  Use a pasta net to remove the noodles.
     Place the noodles in a container of ice water.
     Stir the noodles by hand, till they feel stiff, chewy and rubbery.
     Drain the ice water off of the noodles.  
     Set the noodles aside.
     Keep the pot of water hot, so the noodles can be reheated later in the recipe.

     Rosebud Sweet Sour Sauce:
     Step 1:  Place a small sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of dry sherry.
     Add 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar.
     Add 1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 3 1/2 tablespoons of Persian Rosebud Preserves.
     Add 1 teaspoon of crumbled edible dried rose petals.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Step 2:  When the sauce comes to a gentle boil, immediately reduce the temperature to low heat.
     *Taste the sauce, to check the balance of sweet and sour flavors.  Adjust the balance with either sugar to add sweetness or vinegar to add sour.  The sauce should have an equal balance of sweet and sour flavor.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till about 3/4 cup remains and the pectin from the preserves starts to thicken the sauce.
     Step 3:  Add 3 drops of rose water.  (Bottled Rose Water is available in Mediterranean Markets.  Rose water is very strong so only a few drops are needed.)
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of pure sesame oil.
     Add 1 pinch of lime zest.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.

     Prickly Pear Cactus Flavor Cut Noodles en Rosebud Sesame Sweet Sour Sauce:
     Use a pasta net to reheat the noodles in the reserved pot of hot water.
     Drain the water off of the noodles.  
     Add the prepared cactus fruit flavored cut noodles to the sauce in the pan.
     Toss the sauce and noodles together with the sauce.
     Place the noodles on an oval plate.
     Use a long tine carving fork to twist and coil the noodles on a plate, so they look nice.
     Sprinkle a few pinches of the toasted sesame seeds over the noodles.  (Any extra toasted sesame can be saved for another recipe.)
     Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of chiffonade cut lime zest over the noodles.

     The noodle dish is perfect for a multi course meal!  

Monday, February 23, 2015

Lion's Head









     Lion's Head For Chinese New Year Brings Good Luck And Fortune!    
     If 1 Lion's Head brings good luck, then 3 Lion's Heads must bring triple good luck!  I am not sure if Confucius would agree with this logic, but one simply cannot go wrong by having a positive outlook during the Chinese New Year celebration!
     Lion's Head is a highly seasoned pork meatball with that is wrapped with cabbage.  The meatball represents a lion's head and the cabbage represents the lion's hairy mane.   Napa cabbage or bok choy are the best cabbage choices for making lion's head, because the leaves create a nice looking effect.
     There are many regional variations of Lion's Head recipes in China.  Many Lion's Head recipes from northern China are glazed with a red color sauce.  Some recipes call for a meatball that is wok fried to a golden brown color.  Some Lion's Head meatballs are boiled or steamed and they have plain pale look.  Basically there are as many Lion's Head variations as there is lions!
     Today's recipe is broth version of Lion's Head that is popular in some parts of eastern China.    Boiled Lion's Head might look plain and simple but these meatballs pack a lot of good flavor.

    Lion's Head is a special entrée that is served during special occasions like weddings, birthdays and of course Chinese New Year.  Lion's Head has a reputation of bringing fortune and good luck in the future.  If you believe, then it will happen!  Lion's head is a perfect Chinese New Year treat to share with guests!

     Lion's Head:
     This recipe yields 3 medium large lion's heads and enough broth to share!
     Step 1:  Place 11 ounces of ground pork in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 tablespoons of finely minced water chestnut.
     Add 1 teaspoon of shrimp paste.  (Shrimp paste is strong.  A little goes a long way!)
     Add 4 cloves of minced garlic.
     Add 3 teaspoons of minced ginger.
     Add sea salt.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Chinese five spice powder.
     Add 1 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Thoroughly mix the ground pork mixture.
     Step 2:  Form three equal size meatballs.
     Step 3:  Place enough light chicken broth in a sauce pot to cover the meat balls.  (About 1 quart.)
     Bring the broth to a boil over medium high heat.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 2 cloves of minced garlic.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Step 4:  Place the pork meatballs in the boiling broth.
     Add a few slices of water chestnut to the broth.
     Boil the meatballs for a few minutes, till the outside of the meatballs become firm.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to medium/medium low heat.
     Gently boil the meatballs, till they become fully cooked.  (A center temperature of 155º to 165º is good.)
     Remove the meatballs from the broth and keep them warm on a stove top.
     Step 6:  Place three trimmed baby bok choy in the gently boiling broth.  (The baby bok choy have to be large enough to wrap around the meatballs.)
     Boil the bok choy, till they are wilted and so they still have a little bit of crisp bite.
     Step 7:  Remove the bok choy from the broth.
     Place the wilted bok choy in a bowl and cool them under cold running water.
     Step 8:  Place the bok choy on a cutting board.  Open the bok choy leaves and cut the small center heart out of each bok choy, but be sure leave the rest of the baby bok choy stalks attached to the stem end.
     Step 9:  Place each meatball in the center of each bok choy.
     Wrap the bok choy leaves around the meatballs.
     Step 10:  Place the meatball stuffed bok choy Lion's Heads in a large soup bowl with the stem ends facing down.
     Peel the bok choy leaves back to expose the meatballs, so the bok choy leaves resemble a lion's mane.
     Scoop the water chestnut slices out of the broth and place them in the bowl.
     Slowly pour the hot broth over each lion's head to reheat them.
     Sprinkle a few green onion slices on the broth in the bowl.

     Five spice powder and pork is a classic combination.  Shrimp paste and water chestnut are traditional Chinese meatball flavors.  Eating an entrée that brings good luck and fortune is a great way to start the new year!