How to Make Fish Balls? we wanted to show you how to make fishballs first showing how you can make your own fishballs at home, from scratch then also show you two different dishes that you can make with them.
The ever-popular Hong Kong curry fishball of course, but also a simple, classic Chaozhou-style fishball soup that can be found throughout Guangdong.
Now, it should bear mentioning that frozen fishballs should be readily available at like every Asian supermarket,
So if you’re not interested a fishball-from-scratch project obviously feel free to jump ahead in the video.
How To Make Fish Balls?
Now the type of fishball we’re doing is the salt-water fish sort – they’re a little bit more challenging but are the standard fishball in Hong Kong.
There are three types of fish that are commonly used for salt-water fishballs: nageyu, which’s a type of lizardfish and probably the best for fishball big eye snapper, which’s, unfortunately, a bit rich for our blood, and Spanish mackerel, which we’ll be using today for ease of international replication.
Ultimately though I think anything that’d be good for surimi would work here filleted as you would fillet any fish.
Once you get your fillet of mackerel though, soak them for an hour or two in cool water, then slice the guy in half and cut out that
fatty middle bit, together with any extra bits of fatty flesh.
Mackerel meat is nice and firm which’s why it’s good for fishball, but it’s definitely a bit on the fatty side which’s why it’s not the very best.
So then with your knife just scrape the meat off the fillet and, after you work through all that, toss in a bowl.
Now, unless you happen to be some sort of master sushi chef, you’ll probably have a touch of meat still on the bones after filleting
no problem at all, just is sure to scrape that stuff off too.
Save the bones for stock, and with that, we ended up with 550 grams of fish meat in all.
So take a cleaver and get that into a fine mince, periodically folding the meat over itself as we always do.
Now obviously, depending on your fish you might end up with a bit more or a bit less meat, just adjust these upcoming ratios if
you end up with something significantly different.
But after about five minutes of mincing just wrap that up, and pop in the fridge for an hour to chill right down.
An hour later, we’re good to make some fishballs.
We’ll need to stir this to form a nice paste, which you can totally do with chopsticks if you’re so inclined.
Mackerel, unfortunately, takes a bit more elbow grease than some other breeds and so in the interest of going easy on ourselves, today we wanted to use a stand mixer.
Now, for this and basically all meat emulsions, you gotta avoid things getting so warm that the fat in the meat starts melting.
Especially with a stand mixer that can be a variable, so our high tech solution was to strap on some ice packs with an exercise
So to your fish toss in one teaspoon salt, one teaspoon sugar, a quarter teaspoon white pepper powder, and optionally-ish 55 grams of sweet potato starch.
See, with a fish-like nageyu or snapper you actually don’t need the starch, but because mackerel’s so oily it does really help.
Now, as that’s going we’ll be slowly be drizzling in liquid – this was 15 milliliters of liaojiu a.k.a. Shaoxing wine together with
120 mL of water in ice cube form.
So toss in a bit to get started, and with the paddle attachment let that go on speed three and periodically drizzle in more liquid.
After about five minutes, your liquid should be completely incorporated, so scrape down the paddle and let that continue to mix for
30 minutes more, every once in a while scraping the paddle in the same way.
After thirty minutes, you should be looking at a fish paste that’ll obviously stick to your skin rather than slide if you smeared
it across your finger.
Then, to develop springiness, take that fish mixture and ‘dat’ it – that it, continuously slam it all down against the bowl twenty times or so to develop springiness.
And with that, the fishballs are ready to form and cook.
So now, the fun part.
Set up a pot of water, and wet a spoon.
Then squeeze out a ball-sized bit of the fish paste – that’ll likely take a number of squeezes at first to get something good and
even… then grab it with the spoon, and toss it in the water.
Don’t worry if you find yourself squeezing a number of times to get something workable, even fishball professionals need to squeeze at least twice.
Then once all your fishballs are done, but those all over a medium flame and bring their poaching liquid up to temperature.
Keep a close eye, and an accurate thermometer handy, because our goal here’s to get it up to around 40 centigrade or so.
At that point, drop the flame to the lowest heat your stove goes and let it poach at around 40 to 50 centigrade for 30 minutes.
After that time, the fishballs should have formed to the point where they can roll on a spoon if you take them out.
Then get that all up to a boil, and the fishballs are good to go once you see them floating.
So then take them out, toss in an ice bath, and at this point either use them or more realistically store in the freezer.
There’s really not that much to the two dishes that we’ll use those with.
If you watched our Hong Kong curry video last week the plate on the left should be immediately recognizable – we’ll be using the same mix of aromatics together with the same homemade.
Hong Kong-style curry paste.
Then for the soup, it’s really super absurdly simple… no stock base, the only thing you’ll need handy is a bit of zicai which’s a seaweed that you might also see sold as gim, laver, or raw nori… and some deep-fried garlic crisps, which also used in Thai cooking but in a pinch could also just be made at home.
We’ll start with the curry fishballs though, and to start with those we’ve first got to do a bit of deep-frying.
So in a wok with a couple cups of oil, get that up to about 175 centigrade and drop in your fishballs.
We decided to go with ten fishballs for this portion.
These are generally fried in order to firm up the exterior of the meatball, but you can skip this if you’re feeling lazy.
Fry those for about a minute until they’re really ever so slightly lightly golden and take them out.
For the curry then, first drizzle a touch of oil to a pot and go in with half of a red onion.
Fry for about four minutes over a medium-low flame, then toss in four cloves of garlic and two shallots both roughly chopped.
Another minute, then toss in two inches of ginger and the white portion of two lemongrass stalks, both smashed.
Another fry, then go in with two tablespoons of your Hong Kong-style curry paste together with an optional teaspoon of turmeric for color.
Quick fry, then go in with a half a liter of water.
A quick note that all those aromatics are optional many vendors use solely curry paste, but we enjoyed the complexity they added.
So then get that up to a boil, toss in your fishballs, season with two teaspoons salt and four teaspoons sugar, and let that simmer
over a low flame for thirty minutes.
Then after that time, serve however you feel like, but on a bamboo skewer certainly wouldn’t be out of place for that street fishball vibe.
So now for the soup.
Dead easy, first add one gram of seaweed to about 350 milliliters of boiling water.
Let that boil for about 30 seconds, then break it apart, and add in your fishballs – here we used six.
Let that boil until the fishballs floating about a minute then season with a quarter teaspoon salt, a quarter teaspoon sugar, and
an optional but recommended sprinkle of MSG.
Then nestle in some romaine lettuce, sprinkle on a handful of chopped scallion, about a teaspoon of the deep-fried garlic, and a good drizzle or half teaspoon or so of toasted sesame oil.
And that’s honestly it – a simple, and perhaps surprisingly satisfying fishball soup.
So we did the Chaoshan style fish which uses saltwater fish because that’s what they use in the curry fishballs in Hong Kong.
While in other parts of China freshwater fish is what people usually go to uh for example in Guangdong [sic] here, Lingyu
is the classic one.
And in the Jiangzhe Shanghai area Qingyu is usually what people would like to use and the fishballs up there got a very different texture.
It’s very pillowy and soft, and in the future of course we’d want to show you how to make that, too.
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