Lions-HeatLion's Head Meatballs

This celebratory dish from Shanghai consists of oversized meatballs with bok choy “manes.” The lion represents power and strength in Chinese culture, while the oversized meatballs symbolize family reunion.

1 pound bok choy, Peking cabbage (Napa cabbage), or spinach leaves
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 to 2 green onions (spring onions, scallions), minced
1 large egg
1 pound ground pork
3⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
21⁄2 teaspoons pale dry sherry
3 tablespoons light soy sauce, divided
1⁄2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
Black or white pepper, to taste, optional
2 to 3 tablespoons cornstarch or flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
11⁄2 cups chicken broth

Wash and drain the bok choy (or other greens). Cut crosswise into 3-inch strips. Mince the ginger and green onion.
In a small bowl, beat the egg with a fork.
In a medium bowl, combine the ground pork with the ginger, green onion, salt, sugar, dry sherry, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper (if using), and the egg, using your fingers to thoroughly mix the ingredients. Add as much cornstarch as needed so the mixture is not too wet. (I start with 2 tablespoons and then add 1 teaspoon at a time).
Form the ground pork into 4 large meatballs.
Flatten them a bit so they are not completely round.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet or wok on medium-high. When the oil is hot, add the meatballs.
Cook for 5 minutes until browned on the bottom. Turn and cook the other side. (Adjust the heat if the meatballs are cooking too quickly.)
In a flameproof casserole dish or saucepan large enough to hold the meatballs, heat the chicken broth and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce to boiling.
Add the meatballs, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the bok choy. (You can arrange the bok choy on top of the meatballs so that it steams or lay some right in the broth if there is room.) Simmer for another 15 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through and there is no pink in the middle.
To serve, place each meatball on a small plate surrounded by bok choy or in soup bowls with some of the bok choy and broth. You can also thicken some of the broth with cornstarch and water and pour it over the meatballs.

TD&N Nutrient Analysis (based on 4 servings): Calories: 437; Total Fat: 33 g; Saturated Fat: 10 g; Polyunsaturated Fat: 7 g; Monounsaturated Fat: 13 g; Cholesterol: 135 mg; Sodium: 1,357 mg; Carbohydrates: 10 g; Fiber: 1 g; Protein: 24 g

Clam sycee

A popular Chinese New Year’s dish, it symbolizes good fortune and prosperity, as the stuffed clams resemble the gold or silver bouillion originally used
as money in China.

2 dozen clams, such as littleneck or cherrystone
2 teaspoons olive oil
1⁄2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry, divided
1 slice ginger
1 green onion, cut on the diagonal into thirds
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in
2 tablespoons water
3⁄4 cup chicken broth or stock
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
3⁄4 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons oil

Use a stiff brush to scrub the outside of the clams under cold running water. Drain.
Heat a wok or large frying pan over mediumhigh heat. Add the olive oil, wine, 1 tablespoon of Chinese rice wine or sherry, ginger, green onion, and the clams. Cover and cook just until the clams open, about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the clams from the pan. Do not clean out the pan.
While the clams are steaming, mix the cornstarch and water into a paste.
In a separate bowl, combine the chicken broth, oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, and sugar to create the sauce.
Shuck the clams, setting aside the shells for later.
Mince the clam meat and combine with the ground pork. Stir in 1 tablespoon of rice wine or sherry, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch,
and salt to taste. Stuff this mixture into the clam half shells. Rub the cornstarch/water mixture paste over top. Reserve any extra cornstarch paste to add to
the sauce later.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok. Place the clams in the wok with the meat side down. Stir-fry until golden.
Add the sauce ingredients into the pan with the wine. Add the clams back to the pan and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. Add any remaining cornstarch/water paste, stirring quickly to thicken.
Serve hot.

TD&N Nutrient Analysis (based on 4 servings): Calories: 369; Total Fat: 21 g; Saturated Fat: 7 g; Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g; Monounsaturated Fat: 10 g; Cholesterol: 91 mg; Sodium: 745 mg; Carbohydrates: 9 g; Fiber: 0 g; Protein: 26 g