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Lion's Head Meatballs in Spicy Coconut Sauce

By 1:53 PM , ,

What in the world are Lion's Head Meatballs??? That's exactly what I thought when I saw this recipe (which I adapted) on Cooking Light's website.  As it turns out, this recipe was part of the magazine's Chinese New Year menu and got their name for both the size of the meatballs and the fact that apparently Lions are believed to ward off evil.  I guess you learn something new every day, right?

These meatballs were easy to assemble and the sauce was simple to make (though I'd suggest a pair of latex gloves for the all the seeding and chopping of the chiles and jalapeno).  And I must say the picture above is kind of deceptive because though it looks like one gigantic meatball, it's actually two.  By the time the one pound of meat is divided into 8 balls and they cook down, they just aren't that big. So, I don't really know that they're worthy of being called Lion's Heads....haha.

I changed up the below recipe from the original to more suit our tastes.  Among them were adding more heat, and a different heat with the addition of jalapeno.  I also have a huge aversion to water chesnuts so I omitted those.  I thought that a bit of sweetness would be a nice counter to the heat, so I added sugar, which also worked well with the coconut milk.  One of the biggest changes I made was switching out fish sauce for oyster sauce.

We loved this dish! I really made this recipe with Hubby in mind, but I think I ended up loving it even more than he did.  It's a definite keeper!

Lion's Head Meatballs in Spicy Coconut Sauce

1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup 1% milk
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1-2 teaspoons minced hot red chile pepper
1/2 jalapeno, seeded & minced
1 tablespoon chopped green onions
2 tablespoons Oyster sauce

1 pound lean ground beef or ground venison
1/3 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced hot red chile pepper
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar (I used Splenda)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
To prepare sauce, combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl.

To prepare meatballs, combine ground meat and next 11 ingredients (meat through salt) in a large bowl, and shape mixture into 8 meatballs. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs; cook 7 minutes, browning on all sides. Drain well.

Place sauce in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add meatballs; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes. Garnish with basil and rind.  Serve over rice.

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