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  • Writer's pictureAlissa Love

Handmade Chinese Fishball Soup

This soup pays homage to my Chinese heritage and holds fond memories for me growing up. It perfectly champions the use of fresh fish and simple everyday ingredients to create a truly wholesome dish. Perfect for cold rainy days - serve with steamed rice or add noodles for a healthier option.

Recipe serves 4 - 5 people. 20 minutes prep time, total cook time 20 minutes.


For the handmade fishballs

600g whole fish - mackerel, wolf herring, snapper, yellowtail

1 tablespoon pounded garlic and ginger paste

1 tablespoon cornflour

2 sprigs chopped coriander

2 chopped chili padi (optional)

Salt & pepper to taste

For the soup

Fish bones

3 whole garlics

2cm knob of ginger

2 carrots, cubed

3 potatoes, cubed

1 bitter gourd, sliced

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 cinnamon stick

Star anise, cloves, cardamon

Salt & pepper to taste

Chopped spring onion to garnish



For the handmade fishballs

1. Using a spoon, scrape the flesh off a semi-frozen fish, going with the grain and in the direction of the bones. Be careful to feel for any bones and remove them accordingly.

2. Chop the fish roughly on a wooden board. If you prefer a smoother consistency, pass through a mincer or food processor. Personally, I prefer the fishballs to have a rougher consistency, so that I have bites of whole fish in every bite.

3. In a medium bowl, mix the fish flesh, garlic and ginger paste, cornflour, coriander and chili padi with your fingers. Add salt & pepper to taste.

4. Using well oiled fingers, form balls with the fish paste. Set aside until needed.

For the soup

1. In a medium pot, heat up olive oil and add in star anise, cloves, cardamon and cinnamon stick. Stir in for 1 minute until fragrant.

2. Stir in garlic and ginger for 1 minute, and add fish bones directly into the mixture. For flavour, make sure to brown the bones before adding water.

3. Add fish sauce, salt & pepper to the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes and the fish stock is now ready to use.

4. Remove fish bones and add potatoes, carrots and bitter gourd. Boil until soft.

5. When the vegetables are soft or almost cooked through, gently drop the fish balls into the water.

6. Fishballs should be ready in 5 minutes, or when they float to the top.

7. Sprinkle chopped spring onion and serve with warm rice or add noodles into soup when cooking.



1. Use a ceramic spoon to scoop up the flesh of the fish, a metal spoon can be too harsh.

2. Thaw the fish halfway through when removing the flesh, it will be much easier to avoid accidental bones in your fish paste.

3. Ready-made fish or chicken stock can be used as well. I'd recommend using the bones instead for a healthier and much tastier option.

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