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Put all the ingredients for the meatballs into a large bowl and stir to combine well. Using wetted hands, take a golf ball-sized mound and roll into a round shape. Put on a plate and repeat to make 12.
Pour the groundnut oil into a large wok or pan and set over high heat until a thermometer reads 160C. Put a meatball onto a slotted spoon and gently lower into the oil. Leave to brown for 5-7 mins until golden, then cook all the meatballs. To check if a meatball is cooked, push a skewer through and, if it comes out clean, it’s cooked. Lift the meatballs out, then drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper and set aside.
Add 1 tbsp of the hot oil to a clean wok. Put over a high heat, add the vegetable stock, 850ml water, the mushrooms and Chinese leaf, and cook over a medium heat for 10-12 mins. Add the meatballs and cook for a further 4-5 mins, adjusting the cabbage leaves so they wrap around each meatball – the meatball resembles the ‘lion's head’ and the cabbage resembles the ‘mane’. Season with sesame oil, salt and ground white pepper. To thicken the soup, add 1 tbsp of the cornflour mixture when the broth is boiling. Then turn the heat to low and garnish with the sliced spring onions.
Ladle a portion into soup bowls, spoon a meatball and with some Chinese leaf and sliced mushrooms, and serve immediately.
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