Homemade Chinese Fishballs Recipe

Chinese fishballs are little glossy rounds of bouncing deliciousness, perfect in soups, noodles, sambals and stir fries.
chinese fishballs in soup
Chinese Fishballs in soup

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Chinese fishballs. I can’t live without them. Little glossy rounds of bouncing deliciousness, fishballs are mild in flavour, making them a wonderful ingredient in all sorts of dishes in East and South East Asia.

You’ll find them in soups, in noodles, in sambals and in fried rice.

The good news is, you can easily make them at home.

Homemade Chinese Fishballs Recipe

You may have heard, you may have read, that Chinese fishballs can be tricky. Too soft, too hard, not bouncy enough and a myriad of other scenarios.

Let me put your mind at ease. Just follow the recipe, and you’ll be playing mini basketball with those fishballs in no time at all!

All you need to make Chinese fishballs at home:

  • white fish
  • salt
  • water
  • white pepper

Some people add egg to their fishball paste, or cornflour as binders. You’ll find that this is more so in Chinese fishballs in China, as opposed to Chinese fishballs in Singapore and Malaysia, where I come from. As you can see from the recipe below, I don’t bother with either, as that’s how I grew up eating them.

What fish to use to make Chinese Fishballs?

Traditionally, wolf herring (ikan parang) or Spanish mackerel (ikan tenggiri) is used to make fishballs. However, for those of us who don’t have access to either, any type of white fish will do the job perfectly; tilapia, bass, catfish, grouper or cod. The tastier the fish, the tastier your fishballs.

Chinese fishballs with noodles
Chinese fishballs with noodles

How to make bouncy Fishballs?

The trick is in the mixing of the paste. The traditional method is to mix it all up, then to throw the paste down onto your kitchen counter from a height, about 60-70 times! Not unlike when making kebabs without binders in them.

But honestly, when it comes to fishballs and meatballs, I’ve found that your food processor, with a paddle attachment, does the job perfectly, quicker and much better!

More Balls on LinsFood!

Another traditional method is also to first scrape your fish meat from its skin, then mince it all up with a large knife.

Yeah, not something I bother with either. I get my fishmonger to prepare the fish, then get it all minced in the chopper when I get home. Because that’s what the chopper is for!

How to shape Chinese Fishballs

This part, I stick with tradition. All you do, is scoop up the meat, and squeeze a small ball through your thumb and forefinger, just like I showed you when making the Chinese meatballs. However, roll them up like regular meatballs if you’re more comfortable with it.

Fishcakes and fish rolls

You can also shape the paste as a roll or a regular fishcake, like those small Thai ones. Fishcakes and fish rolls are also very popular and common garnishes or ingredients in noodle and soup dishes.

fishballs on skewers
Fried fishballs on skewers are a very common street food. This was taken in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

How to use Chinese Fishballs

  • As garnish for noodles and fried rice
    As mentioned above, fishballs make a great garnish for noodles and fried rice, especially when they are fried. After you’ve boiled them (recipe below), just lightly fry for a minute or so in a little oil, to brown and crisp the outside.
  • As an ingredient in fried rice, fried noodles and stir fries
    Slice them up in half or quarters and add them to your stir fries towards the end, and heat through before serving up.
  • Great in Asian style soups
    I quite often drop fishballs or meatballs into the soups we have, just to add some “bite”. They are great in any miso soup.
  • Fried or grilled, on skewers, just like satay, as in the image above. They make great finger food too.

LinsFood Recipes that are Fishball Friendly

Here are some examples of dishes you can use fishballs and meatballs in. Head on over to the Chinese page and the Singapore/Malaysia page for more ideas.

Let’s get our aprons on!

If you like the recipe, don’t forget to leave me a comment and that all important, 5-star rating! Xièxie!

And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor.

Lin xx

Homemade Chinese Fishballs

Chinese fishballs are little glossy rounds of bouncing deliciousness, perfect in soups, noodles, sambals and stir fries.
4.91 from 31 votes
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: chinese fishballs, chinese food, fish recipes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 (Makes about 15-20 fishballs, depending on size)
Calories: 121kcal
Author: Azlin Bloor

Ingredients

  • 500 g white fish
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper
  • ½ cup water

Instructions

  • Mince the fish in a chopper.
  • Place all the ingredients in a food processor, if you have one, and mix on low for 2 minutes. Then increase he speed to medium and continue mixing for a good 3 minutes until you have a sloppy, gloopy mix.
    Alternatively, place all the ingredients into a bowl, and mix throughly with your hands. Then, pick the whole mixture up and throw it down onto the counter (or chopping board) from about a foot up. Do this about 60 times, by which time the fish paste will have achieved that springy consistency synonymous with fishballs.
  • Have a large bowl of iced water to drop the fishballs into.. And a smaller bowl of cold water to dip your hands into periodically, to stop the paste from sticking too much to your hands.
  • Form little balls with the paste, either with the traditional method (see video on how to roll Chinese meatballs, below) or the usual way by rolling the between your hands. Drop the balls into the large bowl until you’re ready to cook them.

Cooking the Fishballs

  • Bring a large saucepan of water, with 1 Tbsp salt added, to boil. Lower the heat to medium, then slowly drop the fishballs into the boiling water, no more than 10 at a time.
  • The fishballs are done when they float up, perhaps 2-3 minutes.
  • Fish them out with a skimmer or slotted spoon and set them aside while you get the rest done. They are ready to be added to whatever recipe you want to use them in. See examples above.

Nutrition

Calories: 121kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 63mg | Sodium: 648mg | Potassium: 378mg | Fiber: 1g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Mention @azlinbloor and tag #linsfood!
Made it? Upload your photosMention @azlinbloor and tag #linsfood!

36 thoughts on “Homemade Chinese Fishballs Recipe”

  1. Mongrel Kitchen

    2 stars
    I have made fish balls over the years, but after reading your ratings, decided to try this recipe. There must be an error in the conversion to American measurement from Metric, or the multiplier is wrong. These came out so salty that my salt-loving husband rejected them.

    1. That’s a shame. Looking at all the other success stories, not sure what went wrong with yours. I checked the conversion, and it seems to be working fine. Perhaps you’ll have better luck next time.

      1. The US conversion changes the teaspoon (tsp) to tablespoon (Tbsp) which is where the error occurred.

  2. Indrani sen

    5 stars
    I tried making fish balls with this recipe and they turned out awesome, soft and bouncy. Love this recipe ❤️

  3. 5 stars
    Thank you Azlin for the easy to follow recipe. Do you think these fishballs freeze well? was thinking to double the quantity if they freeze well. thanks

    1. Hi Jas, yes, they freeze very well. That’s what I do, instead of making them all the time. I’m happy to keep them in the freezer for a month.

  4. Just FYI – you need to change the weight in your recipe. 1000g is NOT 1.1 lb! that’ll confuse a lot of people!

    1. Hi Jaye, I’m not sure where you got 1000g from.
      My recipe doesn’t say 1000g (which I would’ve written as 1 kg, anyway). It clearly states 500g.
      450g = 1 lb
      500g = 1.1 lb, rounded off.

  5. Jim Holster

    5 stars
    Great recipe, thanks. Just made them for lunch, which was your prawn noodle soup, and these were great in them. Cheers.

  6. 5 stars
    Although I prefer whole fish, I liked this fishballs called “tsumire” (つみれ), which is made of 秋刀魚 (sardines?) when I was a kid. The taste is very fishy and I loved it grown up. I wonder why people use white fish for this, but probably goes well with white pepper.

  7. What I love most about your recipes is how easy they are to follow! Wonderful tips on making these yummy fishballs. They look so soft, almost fluffy!

  8. Mandy Fuller

    5 stars
    Thanks Azlin, I loved the video of the meatballs. Looking forward to the fishball video. Bookmarked to try soon.

    1. Hi Lin, just to clarify, with the fish in the food processor, do you use:
      1. the knife blade to pulse then mix; or
      2. the paddle to mix?

        1. Would a dough blade be suitable to use instead of a paddle? I don’t have those expensive Kenwood or KitchenAid type food processors.

    1. wendy stackhouse

      5 stars
      Made these with Basa and instead of salt, added tsp curry powder. Not authentic – but yummy! Going to try it with salmon next.

      1. Very interesting, the curry powder must add a nice flavour to it. In Indonesia, there is a variation that’s made with curry powder. Bakso are Indonesian large meatballs, I have a post of it here: Bakso.

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