1. Mix the first 8 ingredients together, just until combined, using your hands or a wooden spoon. Set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a large casserole over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage and stir-fry until softened, about 5 minutes, seasoning with salt. Add the stock and bring to a steady simmer.
3. With wet hands, form 4 meatballs with the pork mixture; handle gently. Slide the meatballs into the stock, cover, and simmer, undisturbed, until cooked through, about 2 hours.
4. Place the cabbage in a soup tureen and put the meatballs on top. Spoon the stock over the dish, season with sesame oil, and serve immediately.
Deluxe Lion’s Head. Add ½ cup chopped reconstituted wood ear mushrooms and ¼ cup chopped peeled, fresh water chestnuts (or peeled jicama) to the pork mixture.
Lion’s Head Pie. A kind of delicious meat loaf: Omit the cabbage and stock. Press the pork mixture into a large shallow dish. Steam over hot water until cooked through, about 1 hour.
Pearl Balls. You may have eaten these in a dim sum house: Omit the cabbage, stock, and sesame oil. Soak 1 cup glutinous or sticky rice in water for 1 hour, then drain. Form the meat mixture into 1-inch balls, then roll them in the sticky rice to cover. Place the balls in a steamer and cook until the meat cooks through and the rice puffs and becomes sticky, about 30 minutes. Remove and serve