The art of transforming pounded fish flesh into those mysterious little balls of deliciousness deserves our attention even though they are a bit of a bitch to make.
One can always buy the MSG laden frozen ones from the local Asian Store freezer section but homemade is always more satisfying and since we do have enough time on our hands these days I decided to make it even a bit more of a bitch by pairing them with handmade egg noodles!
The best fish balls are made with mackerel or Red Snapper but being somewhat limited these days in what we can find I have used what was available from the on-line supermarket delivery. I used tilapia fish (known as “Musht” here in Israel ) which did quite adequately but in general, all types of firm fleshed fish with high gelatin can work for traditional Chinese fish balls
The secret of a winning fish ball lies in its bounce factor. It should springy to the bite and this require a little hard work. After removing the skin and mincing the flesh of the fish you mix in the other ingredients. Take the mixture with your hands and slap it back down onto the board. Do this about 50-60 times which will produce a glossy and elastic fish paste. The fish paste can then be shaped into balls and ready to be cooked.
Asian Fish Balls
- 500-gram fish meat
- Up to 300 ml iced water. this depends on the type and freshness of your fish
- 2 teaspoons low – salt soya sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. white pepper
- 2 middle size egg whites
- 2 tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 teaspoons grated ginger
- If using whole fish, cut the head and tails off and then separate the fish into two fillets.
or use pre-filleted skin on store bought fish fillets
- Remove the skin with a very sharp knife (Save the head, tails and skins for fish stock)
- Place fish and 150ml iced water into a food processor, mix with slow speed until well minced. Alternatively use a cleaver to chop the fish to a paste, adding water.
- Transfer the fish meat to a large bowl, add salt, pepper and sugar and mix for 3 minutes.
- Add egg whites, corn starch, soya and ginger mixing until well absorbed
- Add iced water until all of the water is added and absorbed.
- Mix for 10 to 15 minutes until the paste becomes very soft and silken.
- Now scoop up the mixture with your hands and slap it back down onto the board. Do this about 50-60 times to produce a glossy and elastic fish paste
(To test the fish paste you can take a small scoop of fish mixture into a ball and put into a cup of water. If it floats on surface it is ready, if no, continue blending the mixture rigorously)
- Prepare a bowl of ice water.
- To shape the balls take some fish paste on left hand and hold a scoop or spoon with the right hand. Squeeze a ball and shape with the spoon or scoop. Slide the fish balls into the water. They will float up quickly and soaking the fish balls for 1 hour will make them more elastic.
- Cook the fish balls by placing in poaching soup (follow soup instructions).
Fish Ball Soup
- 20 fish balls, store bought or homemade ones
- 4-gram dried seaweed
- 2-liter water or fish stock
- 1/4 tsp. white pepper
- 1.5 tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. sesame oil
- 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
- 1 thumb ginger ,smashed and cut into small sections
- 1 carrot sliced
- 1 cup of chopped green onion and coriander
- Add water or stock , carrot and ginger to a soup pot. Bring to a boil.
- Lower heat and gently put the fish balls in. Heat until boiling then simmer for 20 minutes over low fire so the fish ball flavor will intensify the soup.
- Turn up the heat and add dried seaweed, white pepper, light soy sauce, salt and sesame oil.
- Continue to cook for a few minutes
- Serve with handmade noodles, chopped green onion and coriander.
Asian Egg Noodles- Handmade Version
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 middle sized egg , whisked
- pinch of salt50-60 ml water
- flour or cornstarch for dusting and coating
- In a large bowl mix flour and salt
- Stir in whisked egg and water slowly. Keep stirring until all the liquid is almost absorbed.
- Gather up knead to a smooth dough.
- Add dry flour as needed, important to have the right consistency so noodles are chewy.
- Form the kneaded dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrapper and rest for 30 minutes, so the gluten is well relaxed
- Use a rolling pin press and flatten the dough for 5 minutes and shape the dough to a ball, cover with plastic wrapper and rest for another 30 minutes.
- Cutting the dough in half and roll into a thin sheet
- Fold the dough sheet into the middle then fold again, brushing with corn flour between layers
- Cut into thin and even strips with a very sharp knife.
- Dust with flour and loosen the strips and slightly stretch the strips slightly.
- Repeat to finish the other half.
- Cook immediately or cover with plastic wrapper and freeze for later recipes.
I’m glad you mentioned saving the bones and other trimmings from the fish to make stock. No need to throw away this precious material.
Thank you Dorothy. Yes I am 100% into saving and using all the “precious” stuff… just made my infamous
“kitchen sink” soup making sure no vegetables and trimmings don’t go to waste….
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I would expect nothing less from a culinary Gypsy!