Meatballs are a perennial favourite in our house, managing to hit the spot with each family member. No mean feat considering the pickiness of their individual palates and food preferences. Fast days always throw up a particularly interesting challenge, my needs for a delicious, satisfying calorie restricted meal versus theirs to quell ravenous appetites. I really do not want to resort to preparing two entirely different meals and usually look to the middle ground. Something that can be padded out with a substantial side serving of carbohydate for them, and prepared in sufficiently large quantities that they can help themselves to a second serving.
This week there was a request for meatballs. Apparently its been an age since I’ve made them, certainly not since the middle of last spring before our long Indian summer set in. Next week marks the official beginning of our winter and this weekend we enjoyed temperatures of 27 C. One of our winter staples are Italian polpette cooked in a rich tomato sauce.
Today I’ve turned to lighter Chinese style pork meatballs, cooked in a mushroom infused broth and served with steamed baby bok choy. With a few clever variations it transforms into a fabulous fast day take on the classic Shanghainese Lion’s Head Meatballs, so named because the meatballs are said to represent a lion”s head and the bok choy its flowing mane. At only 396 calories per four meatball serve it’s a satisfyingly delicious fast day dinner. Supplemented with plenty of fragrant steamed basmati rice it also does double duty as a brilliant family meal.
Lions Head Meatballs With Bok Choy and Shitake Mushrooms
Serves 4 (396 calories per each 4 meatball serve)
1 tablespoon peanut oil (120 calories)
100g shitake mushroons, stalks removed and sliced (28 calories)
2 cups (500ml) chicken stock (40 calories)
8 small heads baby bok choy, leaves separated (40 calories)
For The Meatballs
500g lean pork mince (815 calories)
250g veal mince (350 calories)
2 cloves garlic, minced (8 calories)
3 cm length fresh ginger, minced (5 calories)
4 long green spring onions, finely sliced (20 calories)
1/2 tablespoon crushed dried chilli flakes (12 calories)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (2 calories)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce (18 calories)
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine (9 calories)
1 egg, beaten (75 calories)
1 heaped tablespoon of cornflour (40 calories)
PLACE all the meatball ingredients into a large bowl and mix together with your hands until well combined. Taking generous tablespoonfuls of the mixture at a time, shape into 16 balls about the size of golf balls.
HEAT a tablespoon of olive oil in an extra-large frying pan for which you have a lid. Sear the meatballs over a medium heat, turning them until they are brown all over – this will take about 5 – 10 minutes.
PUSH the meatballs to the side of the frying pan, add the sliced shitake mushrooms. Sauté quickly until brown and crisp then stir gently to combine with the meatballs.
POUR in chicken stock and bring to the boil before reducing heat to low and covering the pan with a lid. Simmer gently for 20 minutes. Uncover. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
PLACE the separated bok choy leaves in an even layer over the meatballs. There should be plenty of broth remaining to steam the bok choy.
COVER and allow to steam for about 10 minutes until the leaves have wilted and the stems are tender.
TO SERVE place bok choy in an even layer over the base of a serving bowl. Place meatballs on top and spoon over the shitake mushrooms and a little broth. The meatballs are said to represent the lion”s head and the bok choy the flowing mane.