Pressure cooker, Sunday dinner
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Instant Pot Chinese Pork Meatballs (Lion’s Head meatballs)

A small bowl with a tower of Chinese meatballs, sprinkled with sliced green onions and sesame seeds for garnish, in front of an instant pot, a knob of ginger, and more scallions
Instant Pot Chinese Pork Meatballs

Instant Pot Chinese Pork Meatballs (Lion’s Head meatballs). Quick pressure cooker pork meatballs, Chinese style, and named after Foo Dogs. What else could you want in a recipe?

Sometimes you just feel like a meatball, you know?

I went looking for ideas, and these Chinese meatballs jumped out at me. They are called “Lion’s Head” because they supposedly look like the heads of the stone guardian lions used in Chinese architecture. Which are also called Foo Dogs. How could I not make a meatball named after a guardian lion, with a nickname like Foo Dog?

So, I read up on the recipe. They all use what I think of as the basic Chinese/Cantonese flavor profile. Scallions, garlic, and ginger make up the aromatics; soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and toasted sesame oil add the sauce. The only difference is, instead of stir frying with them, I’m mixing them straight into the meatballs. Great! I have everything I need in my pantry.

Now I did add one ingredient that I didn’t find in most of my research – bread crumbs. It seems that bread crumbs are a controversial ingredient; most recipes don’t have it, using cornstarch instead. My meatballs were too soft without bread crumbs, so I added a few tablespoons to tighten everything up. I can see why the few recipes that do use bread crumbs add them, to hold everything together.

The rest of the recipe is straightforward, and follows my Italian Instant Pot meatballs – the meatballs don’t need browning, just 10 minutes under pressure, with a natural pressure release. An alternative I add in the notes: traditionally, the meatballs are simmered on top of a layer of shredded cabbage. It’s not necessary, but if you want a simmered cabbage side dish, add a layer of shredded cabbage to the pot before you add the meatballs.

My son particularly loved this recipe. He’s a pot sticker fan; he judges Chinese restaurants on the quality of their dumplings. His review? “This tastes like the inside of a pot sticker!”, said while shoveling more meatballs onto his plate. High praise indeed!

Recipe: Instant Pot Chinese Pork Meatballs (Lion’s Head meatballs)

Inspired by: Lucky Peach Presents: 101 Easy Asian Recipes

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A small bowl with a tower of Chinese meatballs, sprinkled with sliced green onions and sesame seeds for garnish, in front of an instant pot, a knob of ginger, and more scallions

Instant Pot Chinese Pork Meatballs (Lion’s Head meatballs)


  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 12 meatballs 1x

Description

Instant Pot Chinese Pork Meatballs (Lion’s Head meatballs). Quick pressure cooker pork meatballs, Chinese style, and named after Foo Dogs. What else could you want?


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 scallion, minced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs (preferably Panko bread crumbs)
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry, mirin, or sake)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup water (or low sodium chicken broth)
  • Thin-sliced scallions and sesame seeds (optional, to garnish the meatballs)

Instructions

  1. Shape the meatballs: Put the ground pork in a large bowl, Sprinkle the scallion, garlic, ginger, bread crumbs, corn starch, sugar, and salt over the meat. Drizzle the soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and toasted sesame oil over everything, then work the ingredients into the pork. Once everything is evenly mixed, put the egg on top and work it into the pork. Form the mix into 12 golf-ball sized meatballs, each about 2 inches in diameter.
  2. Everything in the pot: Place the meatballs into an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker, setting them in a single layer on the bottom of the pot. Pour the water over the meatballs.
  3. Pressure Cook for 10 minutes with a Natural Release: Lock the lid and pressure cook at high pressure for 10 minutes (Use “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” mode in an Instant Pot), or for 8 minutes if using a stovetop pressure cooker. Let the pressure to come down naturally, about 15 minutes. (If you’re in a hurry, let the pressure come down for 10 minutes then quick release any remaining pressure.)
  4. Serve: Scoop the meatballs out of the pot with a slotted spoon. Sprinkle with the sliced scallions and sesame seeds, serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • Cooked on a bed of shredded cabbage: Traditionally, these meatballs are simmered on top of a layer of shredded cabbage. If you want stewed cabbage as a side dish, seasoned by cooking with the meatballs, add a layer of shredded cabbage to the pot before you add the meatballs. A Napa cabbage, or other Chinese style cabbage, is the traditional choice, but I usually cheat and use a bag of pre-shredded coleslaw for the cabbage.
  • Browning the meatballs: I found it to be more effort than it was worth; it added a little bit of flavor, but the meatballs were more tender without browning. If you do want to brown them, heat a tablespoon of oil using Sauté mode and cook the meatballs, without moving, until they brown on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Then, flip them and brown them on the other “side”. After browning, add the cup of water to the pot and continue with the pressure cooking step.

Tools

  • Category: Sunday Dinner
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Chinese

Keywords: Instant Pot Chinese Pork Meatballs, Instant Pot Lions Head Meatballs, Pressure Cooker Chinese Pork Meatballs, Pressure Cooker Lions Head Meatballs

What do you think?

Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts

Instant Pot Red Braised Pork Belly
Pressure Cooker Chinese Kale
Pressure Cooker Chinese Red Cooked Chicken Thighs
My other Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Recipes

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Filed under: Pressure cooker, Sunday dinner

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Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.

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