Friday, May 8, 2009

Fish ball noodles

Serves around 6 generously

A cornerstone of Hong Kong lunchtime activity, and one of the sensations I crave the most right now. So cheap and in plentiful supply, my favourite being tucked behind Times Square in Causeway Bay, but if you don't have one of these great little neighbourhood eateries round the corner, the dish isn't exactly all that difficult to do at home.

750g skinned and boned white fish fillet or skinned prepared squid
4cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled
1 tsp salt
3 tsp fish sauce
4 tsp cornflour
3 big handfuls beansprouts, softened in boiling water for 1 minute
400g rice vermicelli noodles, prepared according to the packet, rinsed and drained
1.5 litres Asian chicken stock
12 trimmed bok choi stalks
6 string onions, shredded
Handful of chopped coriander and some chopped chilli, to serve

Pulse the fish in a processor to a paste. Grate the ginger.

Squeeze the juice from the ginger gratings over the fish (discarding the spent gratings), then add the salt, fish sauce and cornflour and knead into the fish mixture.

Mould the paste into small balls about the size of a walnut, cover, and then slip into the fridge to firm up.

Cook them in boiling water with the bok choi for 3 minutes, then drain. Divide the beansprouts, noodles, choi and fish balls between four generous bowls. Heat the stock with the spring onion until piping hot and then ladle over – this will reheat everything. Scatter with coriander and chilli.


  1. This is a little off-topic but I like making soup to use up leftovers, but have run out of ideas. I have done cucumber and mint chilled soup, and leek and potato, as well as general mixed veg soup. Can you advise me of some other interesting combinations where I chuck in what's left over at the end of the week, and that will also freeze well?

  2. Dear frances, leftover soup is what it is, and as long as your diet is varied, it'll be a different sensation each and every time... Planned soup on the otherhand is a new game altogether, and a bigger section than many grasp. A few combinations that put the pressure in my steamer are - parsnip, sherry and hazelnut. celeriac and apple. pea and pancetta. potato and roast garlic. thai chicken and galangal. cauliflower and sorrel. porcini and rosemary. mussel and borlotti bean. pheasant and chestnut. Just a few of so many, any of those take your fancy, let me know and I'd be delighted to share a recipe or two.

  3. Thanks.... parsnip sherry and hazelnut sound delicious! Also potato and roast garlic - I have heard people talk about how you can roast garlic and it is all sweet and soft, not smelly at all, but when I roast it, it burns.

  4. frances... poach your whole garlic bulb in simmering milk for a few minutes, drain well, then roast slowly for a result which shouldn't give off a burnt/bitter flavour. Keep checking back for those soup recipes soon.

  5. sorry to be a bit of a novice but do you peel the garlic bulb? And when you roast it, do you roast in oil, or dry, and at what temperature for how long? I know it's delicious on ciabatta as a starter

  6. no problem frances, keep your bulb whole, skin on. Poach in milk for a couple of minutes, drain well and wrap loosely in foil with a knob of butter and a good pinch of salt. It's more of a bake than a roast really, at around 170c, checking after 20 minutes or so. Squueeze the bulb and if the cloves are soft and starting to slip out of their skins - you're ready!