Lion’s Head

My mother learned to cook Chinese food while living in Japan. It was sort of a roundabout way of doing things, but that was mom. My parents were living in Japan when mom decided to take up cooking, she asked about the best places to learn and was told about a cooking school run by Benedictine Sisters from Peking.  

The sisters, originally from the States, went to China a missionaries. As their cook, Ta Shih Fu, would prepare their meals they watched everything he did stopping him sometimes in mid-swing to measure exactly how much of the ingredients he was putting into the meals. War and Communism came to China, and the American Consult feared it was too dangerous, so the sisters were moved to Japan. They arrived with nothing, except what they had learned from Ta Shih Fu. To earn their living they started to teach the Chinese recipes they had learned, and won fame in the city of Tokyo.

Mom loved to tell that story in a sort of “look how good you have it” way…which worked, actually. I might have to tell my own boys that story.  My brother found an out of print copy of the cookbook mom used and gave it to me as a gift.  I’ve spent plenty of time recreating the Chinese meals my mom made in Japan into Paleo meals my family can enjoy today. I’ll only share the successes with you.

  • Ingredients

    1 lb. uncooked lean pork

    8 oz. dried mushrooms, chopped fine

    12 water chestnuts, chopped fine

    1 cup (one small) onion, chopped

    1 TBSP fresh ginger, chopped

    1 egg, beaten

    1 tsp sherry

    4 TBSP tamari or coconut aminos

    2 tsp coconut sugar

    2 tsp arrowroot powder

    1 TBSP oil…ghee, coconut or palm would all work

    1 head of cabbage…green, red or Chinese

    1 ½ cup hot water

  • Directions

    1. In a large bowl soak the chopped mushrooms in the sherry and tamari

  • 2.  Chop the onion, ginger, and water chestnuts.

  • 3. Add the onion mixture and pork to the bowl of mushrooms

    4. Add in the ingredients through the arrowroot powder. Mix everything together with your hands….of course you don’t have to use your hands, but it’s the easiest.

  • 5.  Shape the meat mixture into slightly large golf ball circles.

    6. Over medium high heat, melt your oil and fry the balls until brown.

  • 7. While the balls are browning, cut the cabbage into thin slices

    8. Arrange the cabbage in a large pot or dutch oven, add the water.

    9. Place the browned meatballs on top of the cabbage, place the lid on the   pot and simmer over medium/low heat for half an hour.


Recipe by Kristin Clara