I’m always in search of bouncy handmade fish balls made from real fish. Not the commercial kind that are filled with starch and binders. The beauty of homemade fish ball is in its irregular-shaped look and texture, plus it actually tastes like fish.
Fish balls originated from China and the Teochews (Chao Zhou) are arguably the experts when it comes to making fish balls. Just watch “Flavorful Origins” on Netflix and you’ll know what I mean.
Fish balls in China are mainly made with carp fish, yellow eel. The flesh is whiter and more delicate. In Southeast Asia, mackerel, mullet and yellow tail are more commonly used. Making fish ball is not that daunting. Most of the recipes require using just a large bowl and lots of arm muscle. Since I have a stand mixer, I decide to outsource all the hard work to the machine.
You might also notice two additional ingredients below that are not found in regular fish ball recipes. They are pork lard and spring onion ginger water. I’ve learnt from an online tutorial that adding blended pork lard lends additional moisture to the fish balls (it’s true!) and spring onion ginger water removes any unpleasant fishy odour.
1 large Spanish mackerel (approx. 900g) (substitute with yellow tail if unavailable)
2 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp sugar
45 g pork lard – blend into paste (use 2 tbsp)
2 tbsp corn starch / potato starch
3 egg whites
100 ml water
2 stalks spring onion (white part)
4 slices ginger
makes about 40 balls
Prepare spring onion ginger water.
Add 100 ml water to a blender together with spring onions and ginger slices. Blend until well incorporated and place in fridge.
Cut and fillet the fish. Remove any bones from the fish meat. (refer to video)
Scrap out the fish meat and transfer into a mixing bowl.
Using a kitchen aid or stand mixer, beat the fish meat for about 6 mins on medium speed. The paste should look fairly pale and smooth.
Add in egg whites and continue to mix for another 2 mins.
Mix in salt, sugar, corn starch and continue to beat over low speed for another 2 mins.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue to beat for another min.
Add in 2 tbsp pork lard paste and beat until well incorporated, about 5 min.
With the mixer still on, slowly add in about 3 to 4 tbsp ginger onion water, little by little and continue to beat for another 2 mins until the water is incorporated into the paste.
Turn up speed to medium high and continue to whisk for another 8 mins, until a smooth and bouncy texture is formed.
Insert a chopstick. It should be able to hold the chopstick upright.
To form the fish balls, prepare a large pot of cold water.
Take a handful of fish paste and squeeze into desired round shape through your thumb and forefinger. (Refer to video)
Using a spoon, transfer fish ball into a pot of cold water. Repeat until all the paste is used up.
Cover unused portion with cling wrap and store in the fridge for up to 4 days or freezer for up to a month.
Turn on heat and bring the pot of water to boil.
Skim off white foam on the surface.
Once the fish balls are floating, they are done.
Drain and rinse off excess foam.
Serve with your favorite noodles or soup.