Jiāngsū ‘Lion head’ meatballs

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Jiāngsū ‘Lion head’ meatballs
Jiāngsū ‘Lion head’ meatballs

The Jiāngsū province is known as the ‘land of fish and rice’ and focuses on fine details that are as eye-popping as they are taste bud-tingling ­–peacock sculptures at the table are carved from melons, for example. Also known as sū cài, the cuisine of Jiangsu does beautiful things with river fish and other seafood.

‘Lion head’ meatballs
‘Lion head’ meatballs

One reason to book a ticket straight to Huáiyáng, Sūzhōu or the university town of Nánjīng is the abundance of shīzi tóu (lion head) meatballs. Pork and crabmeat are baked in a casserole into fat meatballs with ginger, wombok Chinese cabbage and green onions, which balance out the optional dollop of crab roe and stops the dish from feeling heavy. Variations include adding soy sauce to the broth, darkening the lion heads, or adding tofu for moister lion heads.

Jiāngsū ‘Lion head’ meatballs
Jiāngsū ‘Lion head’ meatballs

Fierce Shànghǎi pushes up against Jiāngsū and sometimes claims the lion heads as their own (adding vermicelli noodles), making it a popular dish at places such as Xian Yue Hien.