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104. Fried fish ball with Chinese leaves salad


Fried fish balls with Chinese leaves

I still cannot believe that we are in the ‘new’ year already! A few years ago, then I was still struggling with my PhD, probably it was my first or second year, once I was talking to my supervisor, I could not remember why we started talking about time and years, he mentioned a book about the year 2012, the book was about what would happen to the world in 2012. I listened, and thought, ‘ok, it does not matter if I believe it or not, I still have a few years to think about it — 2012 is still far.’ But, here we go, it has started!. Oh, in the end, I did not give a thought about it — I forgot. :)

In China, over thirty years ago, there was a ‘plan’ for the country’s development, something like what people’s lives should be in a few years, and in 2000, what a ‘new’ world we were going to be in. I remember I used to talk to my cousin sister, who was exactly 12 years older than me, (as in Chinese 12 animal sign years, every 12 years is a cycle), she said, ‘by the year of 2000, I will be at age of thirty–… oh, my god, I will be getting old!’ And I was thinking, ‘then, I will not be a little girl anymore, but a young woman.’ It then came to my mind an image of a young women with a bit ‘curled’ hair, wearing high heels, and carrying a black working shoulder bag.

In the end, 2000 came — I was sitting in a rented terrace house in England with some friends I only met on the plane coming to England, and watching TV to see how the whole world was celebrating the new millennium, while struggling to understand  the TV speaker in English. There was no curled hair, no high heels, no shoulder bag, not even family and close friends by my side, just felt like my life started with learning to speak again, like a toddler, and to see a different world in a foreign land…

Time is passing by so fast, especially when you never really pay attention. But ‘new year’ is always good, it is always as a good excuse for a new start. I believe 2012 is going to be good, it is going to be different, and everyday is going to be meaningful, memorable, and we will all have a great harvest in every aspect of life at the end of the year! :))) —Oh, of course, we are going to cook a lot, and eat a lot. Ha…

This recipe is ‘my recipe’, but I ‘stood on the shoulder of… my lovely dad’ when I ‘created’ it. :))) Deep fried fish balls is not a very common dish in northeast China. As I mentioned before, normally it is not easy to get the boneless fish in the markets, as the presentation of a whole fish on the table is always very important in Chinese ‘dining’ culture. However, deep fried ‘prawn balls’, for example, is more common, and my dad is definitely an expert in making it. I remember when I was little that was one of the dishes that I always looked forward to whenever my dad was cooking.

Well, but one thing needs to be clear here: this kind of ‘fried fish ball’ or ‘prawn ball’ is different to… for example, the fish balls or prawn balls in Cantonese cuisine, or the famous Japanese fried fish ball. These seafood ‘balls’ can be fried, stir-fried, cooked in the soup or even in congee. But, in northeast China, the homemade prawn balls are different: they are normally mixed with eggs, flour / corn flour, make it into a ‘thick paste’, then deep fried. It is normally served right after frying, so it is crispy.

In this recipe, I used the same method to make fish – I just used normal boneless white fish. The only problem is that this fish balls is deep fried, a bit oily, so for balancing out, I prepared simple Chinese leaves salad, placed underneath the fried fish balls as one plate. I think it worked. :)) But if you like, you can serve the fish balls without salad.

Here it goes how I made it.


For the fish balls: Boneless white fish (I used 2 good size pieces), egg, ginger, corn flour (or plain flour), oil, salt, light soy sauce (optional), cooking wine (optional)

For Chinese leaves salad: sesame oil, salt, rice vinegar, sugar, light soy sauce


1) Chop the boneless fish and a genuine piece of ginger into ‘mince’.

Chopping the fish and ginger

2) Mix minced fish and ginger along with one whisked egg and 2 full teaspoons of corn flour (I also added one teaspoon of plain flour to make the ‘paste’ hold together better).

3) And add into the mix 2/3 teaspoon of salt, one teaspoon of cooking wine (optional), a few drops of light soy sauce (optional).

4) If you are making the salad, chop 1/4 of Chinese leaves (the leaves part) into thin strips. Mix them with 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 1/3 teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce.


1) In a wok, pour in oil for deep frying, and heat up the oil. Take a spoon of fish ‘paste’ mix, place it into the oil to deep fry. It normally does not take very long to get it done.

2) Place the salad on the plate, then fried fish balls on the top. —

Chinese fried fish balls

— Ready to serve!

Hope you like it! It is good to go with a drink or rice dishes. :)))

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Cooking Note: Chilli and chilli Oil
Chinese health theory: the body heat
Common ingredient: Chinese leaves
Cooking Note: Making ground Sichuan peppercorn


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