There’s more than one way to ball a fish. Here’s a peek at some of the best recipes in town.
Fishball & Co.
At Tak Hing Fishball Company the fish paste is freshly made by hand every morning, from croaker and Asian swamp eels. Tak Hing’s owner Lam Lo-ping, aka “Ping Gor,” tells us that the secret tip for getting a smooth and soft texture is to constantly pour ice onto the fish paste, as the heat from all the kneading and mixing stops the paste from gluing together.
All that hard work pays off, because there’s a big difference between fish paste that’s been hand-kneaded and balls that have been machinemolded. Machine-molded balls tend to lack the firm bite of a hand-made ball.
Tak Hing insists on a no-flour and no-additive recipe—90 percent of their fishballs are meat, and the rest is seasoning. “Those with flour do not qualify to be called fishballs,” scoffs Ping Gor.
“The stamina of Chiu Chow people is probably the key to making fishballs,” he says. “It’s a lot of hard work, you know.”
See the man in action and bring home some freshly made fishballs at Tak Hing, where you can also pick up curry fishballs and homemade curry sauce. Can’t get enough of them? Their fishballs are also available at Woo Cow Hotpot (1-2/F, China Insurance Building, 48 Cameron Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui) and Kam Ho Restaurant (91 Lion Rock Rd., Kowloon City).
76 Fuk Lo Tsun Rd., Kowloon City, 2382-0646.
Wong Yim-hing of Wong Lam Kee Chiu Chow Fishball Noodles has been making fishballs for over 40 years, ever since he started helping out his brother in the 70s.
His fish paste is made from the “three treasures of fishballs”— conger-pike eel, flathead grey mullet and croaker. Every morning he makes over 100 catties—more than 60kg—of fresh fishballs.
Wong also keeps his fish cold to avoid breaking up the proteins in the paste. But cold as it is, the workers refuse to wear gloves when handling the ice-cold paste, so they get a better sense of its texture and stickiness with their fingers. Later, the paste is hand-squeezed into balls, which introduces air into the mixture and creates a fluffy fineness. Sometimes chopped spring onions are added for an extra herby note. Wong’s idea of a good fish ball? Crunchy, smooth and al dente. Check, check and check.
Shop A, 10 Shau Kei Wan Main St. East, Shau Kei Wan, 2886-0068.
Frying the fishballs makes them more flavorful and prevents them from spoiling so easily. Fishballs are cooked in a clear broth, then dipped in curry sauce before being served. Can’t take the heat? Soy sauce and hoisin sauce work too. Fish is minced with knives, then mixed with seasoning and squeezed into balls—all by hand.