Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Fish Cake (Ball) Soup

What is that unidentified glob of goo? But then you have already read from the title above that it is fish cake. Or rather, fish cake in the making...

Handmade Fish cake is a real delicacy in Hong Kong and China. Regular fish cakes and fish balls are machine-made. But a real fish cake is chopped and mashed by hands. The texture and taste is really different. It is excellent! You may feel squirmish though with the thought that somebody's hand mashed that goo. So, the next best thing is to make it yourself. Hubby and I were able to taste a real fish cake from Gloria Maris Sharksfin Restaurant in Greenhills last year and we thought we could try to recreate the taste. We were just wondering how to recreate the texture. We asked around and were told that the fish meat has to be mashed and pulvurized by hand -- for a long time, really long long time.

300 gm boneless fish fillet (any white fish will do)
2 T sesame oil
4 T soy sauce
4 T flour
some dashes of freshly ground pepper ( I used both red and black peppercorns)

1. Chop up the fish fillet into small pieces, as small as possible.

2. Mash the chopped fish with bare clean (disinfected) hands.

3. After the fish texture becomes gooey and pulvurized, that you cannot see any solid piece of fish, add the seasonings and continue to mash away. (Actually the picture above is till in the half-mashed stage. It is not as gooey as it should be.)

4. At this stage, you can refrigerate or freeze for later use.

For the soup, I made a soup stock made from Spareribs and sliced carrots. When dinner was about to be served, I dropped spoonfuls of the raw fish cake into the boiling spareribs carrots soup. The fish cake/ball is cooked when they float up to the surface of the boiling soup. I also added some watercress - one of our family's favorite greens. The resulting soup is very very flavorful.

I also pan-fried some of the frozen fish cake at a later time, and it was also good. This is a very yummy and healthy dish specially if you want to make soups. But it is really very tedious and tiring to make by hand. I wonder if the results will be the same if I use my food processor. Hmmm... I should add fish fillet to my next grocery list...


Lulu Barbarian said...

This looks delicious! Did you ever try it again with the food processor?

Anonymous said...

In Hawaii, we use a fish called the "o'io" (oh-ee-yo)for fishcake. When I was younger, we had to wash the outside of the fish and roll a coke bottle gently back and forth over the whole fish before gutting it. A trained hand can press the flesh out of the back end of the fish and it will be soft and malleable. Lots of work but the fish comes out exactly the correct consistency. Another reason for extracting the flesh like this is because the o'io has hundreds of tiny rib bones and processed without opening the fish, you literally end up with a bag of bones to discard. If you want smoother fishcake, add an egg white and a couple of tsps. of cornstarch and maybe a drop or two of dark sesame oil. Shape the balls using two spoons or a spoon and the palm of your other hand. Drop into hot broth. Fishcake prepared this way can also be fried and is very delicious! Another reason we preserved the integrity of the fish is that the shiny, flashy, plastic-y skin was used for homemade lures.

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