This article originally featured in the January 2021 issue of Connect.

Disclaimer: No lions were harmed in the making of this soup

Lara Yi (Incoming JET)

Lion’s Head Soup (狮子头/shizi tou) is a traditional Chinese dish that can be dated back to the Sui Dynasty. The dish consists of large pork meatballs stewed with vegetables and is named after the likeness of a Chinese guardian lion’s head (the meatball) and its mane (the vegetables). As the lunar new year quickly approaches, consider adding this soup to the celebratory menu!

Servings: 6

750ml chicken broth
90g lotus root/bamboo shoots
6 napa/Chinese cabbage leaves
1 small ginger
2 stalks green onion
100ml water
1 egg white
600g pork belly/ground pork with a 60:40 meat:fat ratio
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon Japanese cooking sake
1/2 teaspoon white pepper powder
2 teaspoons cornstarch
6 pieces of baby bok choy


  1. Prepare chicken broth and keep warm while preparing meatballs.
  2. Finely dice lotus root and set aside.
  3. Cut each cabbage leaf in half, horizontally (separating stems from leaves).
  4. Cut two horizontal slices of ginger and set aside. In a small bowl, grate green onions and remaining piece of ginger. Add 100ml water and set aside.
  5. Separate egg and set aside egg white.
  6. Finely dice pork belly and roughly chop until texture is sticky and resembles ground pork. Skip this step if using pre-ground pork.
  7. Transfer pork into a large bowl. Add salt, sugar, cooking wine, egg white, white pepper powder, and cornstarch to the bowl. Mix together by hand in one direction.
  8. Add lotus root and mix again in the same direction.
  9. Slowly add mixture of green onion, ginger, and water from Step 4. Mix again in the same direction until the texture is sticky.
  10. In a large stew pot, place napa cabbage stems from Step 3 along the bottom of the pot. The meatballs will rest on top of these stems to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  11. Divide pork mixture into six parts, forming into balls.
  12. Place meatballs onto napa cabbage stems and cover each meatball with a napa cabbage leaf.
  13. Slowly add boiling chicken broth to the pot and avoid directly pouring onto meatballs.
  14. Add the two ginger slices from Step 3 to the pot.
  15. Once the whole pot is brought to a boil, cover and simmer for two hours.
  16. After 2 hours, remove leaves and ginger from the pot. Add baby bok choy and cook for one minute.
  17. Serve in six separate bowls—enjoy!

Lara Yi is an incoming ALT from the USA and the current Language Section Editor for CONNECT. She spends her free time learning Japanese, trying recipes from Antoni’s cookbook, and tending to her Animal Crossing island.