The oversized lion’s head meatball in broth is a Shanghainese dish, traditionally made with pork but Brandon Jew, owner-chef of Mr Jiu’s in San Francisco, uses wagyu striploin here, as well as fat and tendon. The meat is finely minced using cleavers, developing the tacky proteins that ensure it holds together when it’s simmered in a claypot.
“Meat in Chinese cuisine is utilised in a really thoughtful way,” says Brandon. “Cooks think about how to use all of its flavour, all of its parts, almost in thankfulness and praise of that animal. Extending the flavour and utility is a huge part of Chinese cuisine.”
100g beef fat, diced
50g beef tendon, blanched, chopped
400g Westholme striploin, finely chopped
30g tofu, ground
3 tbsp ginger, chopped
1g white pepper, finely ground
10g fish sauce
90g (3 oz) Napa cabbage cheek, in the piece
1 bunch Tokyo turnips
60g (2 oz) crab shell stock
30g (1 oz) green garlic
60g (2 oz) Dungeness crab, picked
7 chives, cut into 2cm (1 in) batons
With a cleaver in each hand, mince beef fat, tendon and striploin until it starts to get tacky and is finely minced.
Add tofu, ginger, salt, white pepper and fish sauce.
Sear cabbage, cut side down, until blackened and place in base of claypot, blackened side up.
Form about ¼ meat mixture into a ball and place into claypot over cabbage. (Repeat with remaining meat if making more serves.)
Add turnips (reserve one for garnish), crab stock and garlic around the meatball.
Bring the claypot to a simmer, place lid on top and place in preheated oven (190C/375F) for 45 minutes.
Place crab in a steamer to reheat.
Remove claypot and garnish dish with shaved tokyo turnip.
Place crab meat on top of the meatball.
Garnish with chives.
"Cooks think about how to use all of its flavour, all of its parts, almost in thankfulness and praise of that animal. Extending the flavour and utility is a huge part of Chinese cuisine."
– Brandon Jew