FishballsFish balls are rounded meatballs made from fish paste which are then boiled or deep-fried. Similar in composition to fish cake, fish balls are often made from fish mince or surimi, salt, and a culinary binder such as tapioca flour, corn, or potato starch. The difference between fish cakes and fish balls is mainly in the texture of the processed fish paste. Fish cakes are more coarse, with visible chunks of fish meat, while fish balls are smoother and more uniform in texture.
Fish balls are commonly used in Chinese-style seafood dishes such as fishball noodles, fish ball soup, or even plain steamed fish balls. Due to the use of high protein ingredients, they are often found in Cantonese cuisine. Meatball is an American dish that has its origins in Italian cuisine. It consists of seasoned meat or vegetable balls, which may also be called "fish cake" in Oriental cuisine.
The process used to create Chinese-style fish balls is similar to that of preparing hot dogs, albeit with different ingredients. The main ingredient is ground whitefish flesh mixed with dry ingredients such as water, bread crumbs, and salt to make a dough. The dough is then rolled into balls, which are boiled until they float upward.
The process for making Japanese-style fish balls is slightly different. Fish mince is mixed with salt and a binding ingredient such as potato starch or surimi before being shaped into balls. A simple recipe calls for a ratio of approximately 500g surimi to 100g salt. Surimi is often pre-processed from seafood such as Alaska Pollock, which contains the necessary binding ingredients that allow it to be shaped into balls when hot or cold. The processed fish mince is then mixed in with the binding ingredient and salt before being shaped into round balls.
Fish cakes and fish balls are often made from a combination of two kinds of fish, one being whitefish and the other oily fish such as salmon or tuna. The goal is to use a mixture of both types so that the resulting texture will be a combination of chewy and soft textures rather than tough and rubbery. Thickening agents such as egg whites or agar may be added as well to give the meat balls a smooth and firm texture.
The most common way to enjoy fish balls is by boiling them in either soup or hot pot broth, although they can also be deep-fried until crispy on the outside. Other possible dishes include noodles stir-fried with vegetables, braised fishballs, fishballs in curry sauce, fishballs stuffed into dumplings or even pan-fried fishballs.
Fish balls are also used as an ingredient in other dishes such as crab rangoon that are then deep-fried or baked until crispy. Among Cantonese cuisine, fish ball noodle soup is a menu staple.