Lion's head soup

Poach juicy crab and pork balls in aromatic broth for this sensational Shanghai speciality
By Gary Rhodes
Lion's head soup
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 3.75 hours 45 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Effort: medium


For the ginger juice

  • 50 g ginger, roughly chopped
  • 50 g spring onions
  • 1 litres water

For the lion heads

  • 300 g pork fat, finely chopped
  • 700 g pork meat, leg, finely chopped
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon powder
  • 100 g crab roe
  • 1 tbsp dried shrimp roe
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 6 tbsp cornflour
  • 250 ml chicken stock
  • 50 g Chinese cabbage
  • 200 g spring onions, sliced
  • 50 g ginger, sliced
  • 100 ml shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry, plus more for drizzling
  • 20 g pak choi
  • 20 g glass noodles


1. For the ginger juice: put all of the ginger juice ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Strain through a sieve lined with muslin or through a chinoise, and discard the pulp. Reserve the juice.

2. For the lion heads: put the pork, salt, sugar, white pepper and chicken powder into a bowl and mix well using your hands. Gradually mix in 100ml of the ginger juice.

4. Add the crab roe and shrimp roe, mix well and then portion off into large 200g balls.

5. Mix the cornflour and water together in a small bowl so that you have a thick paste, then coat the lion head balls in the mixture.

6. Bring chicken stock to a simmer in a pot and add the lion heads, cover them with the whole cabbage leaves, then sprinkle over the spring onions and sliced ginger, and pour in the Shaoxing wine. Leave to simmer for 3 hours 30 minutes over a very low heat, or until the lion heads are soft.

7. Remove the lion heads and put into a clay pot along with the pak choi and glass noodles, then pour over enough stock to just cover everything. Bring back to the boil and cook for 6-8 minutes, or until the noodles and vegetables are tender.

8. Serve directly from the clay pot, and drizzle over some Shaoxing rice wine before serving.

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