I have wanted to create this post “How to make fish balls from scratch” for the longest time…but it has taken me so long to do it. The reason is simple: the fish. Living in Southern California, right off the Pacific coast, you would think that fresh fish is plentiful and bountiful and that I should be able to get any fish I like. Wrong! The fish we get here in the market are not great. In fact, they are really bad considering how close we are to the ocean.
90% of the fish we get here are frozen, and most of them do not look fresh. Let’s just put it this way, sometimes I wonder why people don’t get sick eating the fish here. They are really quite bad, red eyes, oozing blood, and just plain fishy. Once in a while you get some decent fish and that’s when I would buy them to cook. Otherwise, I usually eat steamed fish at Chinese restaurants, those alive ones and swimming in the tank. Granted, I can get pretty decent salmon and deep-sea fish here but they are not what I normally like to eat. Other than that, I eat fish at Japanese restaurant.
Anyway, simply put, to make fish balls from scratch, you need fresh fish so your fish balls won’t be fishy, and you need certain kind of fish to give you the best and bouncy texture. So finally, I chanced upon a big mackerel (马鲛鱼) that is great for fish balls so in this post, I will teach you the step-by-step how to make fish balls. I will warn you that it’s going to take some time but when you bite into a bouncy fish ball, you will realize that it’s worth the effort. I have included step-by-step pictures in the gallery for your reference.
I will be honest I am not the best person to ask about the fish species, so check with your local fish monger if they can recommend a good fish for fish balls. You can use mackerel (马鲛鱼), 西刀鱼 (not sure about its English name), eel (鳗鱼), etc., so please check with your fish vendors. Please take note that the kinds of fish best for fish balls are not commonly found in western countries but you never know…so good luck!