Hong kong classic curried fish balls

Hong kong classic curried fish balls

By
From
Hong Kong Diner
Serves
3-4
Photographer
Kris Kirkham

This is one of those FAMOUS STREET FOOD DISHES that Hong Kong is known for. Though it may seem like an odd combination for a street food dish to those who have not spent much time in Asia before, they are a staple and can be found ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE across the city. You can’t visit a market or busy shopping centre without seeing a stand selling these, normally with a crowd around the stall of both locals and tourists alike, tucking into skewers of FRESHLY MADE FISH BALLS. Whether cooked in the curry sauce or with the sauce kept on the side for dipping, this slightly ‘upscale’ version is a MUCHLOVED HONG KONG CLASSIC.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

The fish ball mix

Quantity Ingredient
400g skinless, boneless spanish mackerel fillets, (swapsies: monkfish cheeks)
100g raw, peeled and deveined prawns
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon pure sesame oil
1 egg white
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon fish sauce
20ml water

The curry sauce

Quantity Ingredient
2 garlic cloves
2 large fresh red chillies
10 fresh curry leaves
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
100g finely diced onion
500ml chicken stock
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon cornflour, mixed with 3 tablespoons water

The curry paste

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon madras curry powder
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons coconut milk

Method

  1. For best results, use an electric mixer with the k-mixer attachment. If you don’t have a mixer, you can use a food processor.
  2. Slice the fish into small pieces, and bash the prawns (shrimp) with a cleaver. Put both into the mixer. Start the mixer on a low speed and mix well for 1–2 minutes. Then add the rest of the fish ball mix ingredients and turn the speed up to medium. Once all the ingredients are well mixed, turn up to high for 2 minutes, until a smooth paste has formed.
  3. To make the fish balls, bring a large saucepan, three-quarters filled with water, to the boil. Have a small bowl of cold water nearby. Dip your hands into the cold water, then make one ball at a time with the fish mixture and drop them straight into the boiling water as they are made. Once the fish balls float to the top of the water, they are ready either to cool, freeze and reheat another time, or to set aside for later in the recipe.
  4. To make the curry sauce, finely chop the garlic, red chillies and onions and pick the fresh curry leaves. Mix together all of the curry paste ingredients until they form a smooth paste. Now build your wok clock: place the garlic at 12 o’clock, followed by the red chilli, curry leaves, curry paste and lastly the chicken stock.
  5. You are now ready to make your curry sauce. Pour the vegetable oil into a medium saucepan and bring for roughly 5–6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until well softened and starting to brown. Add the garlic, red chilli and curry leaves and continue to fry for another 2–3 minutes. After about 30 seconds, you should start to smell the distinct aroma of the curry leaves. Do not allow the leaves to burn, but once they are starting to brown a little, add the curry paste and stir well. It should start to boil within about 30 seconds or so. Continue to stir the paste for 2–3 minutes, until it is just about sticking to the base of the pan. At this point, pour in a quarter of the chicken stock and bring to the boil once more.
  6. Once the sauce has reduced by half, pour the rest of the stock into the pan and bring to the boil. Then bring the heat down to a simmer and continue to cook for 30 minutes, or until reduced by half again, keeping the saucepan uncovered. Season the sauce to taste with fish sauce (this is used for saltiness and will complement the fish balls).
  7. Once the sauce has been reduced, add 1 tablespoon of the cornflour paste and stir, while boiling, to thicken it slightly.
  8. Finally, either reheat the fish balls in boiling water for 3–4 minutes, or add them to the curry sauce for 5–10 minutes to reheat and soak up the sauce. Serve with bamboo skewers on the side for a great treat or snack.

Tip

  • The fish balls can also be deep-fried. Half-fill a wok or deep-fryer with vegetable oil and heat to 180°C, or use a wooden skewer or wooden chopstick to test the oil by placing the tip in the oil: if the wood starts to fizz after a second or so, the oil is hot enough. Deep-fry the fish balls for 3 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper for a minute or so before serving.

Tip

  • If you are keen to dip your toe in first, you can start by trying readymade fish balls with the curry sauce, as there are many types available in chinese supermarkets. Take your pick, then just make the curry sauce and heat up the shop-bought treats.
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