Wholesome Cook
5 Ingredients or less

{Day 3} 5 ingredient fish balls in Chinese masterstock jelly

Third post and we are back to jelly. But to break things up a little, this time I’m going savoury! You have to hear me out on this one…

I have decided to take this traditional Polish recipe for fish in jelly and give it a more exotic twist with an Asian masterstock! One of the reasons for mixing up the jelly recipe a little bit was obviously flavour, the other the fact that in many Asian cultures poached fish balls are an everyday staple and I was quite sure the combination of juicy poached fish balls would prove irresistible to many when combined with the flavours of the masterstock.

Before you dismiss the idea altogether, I want you to know that the 5 ingredient fish ball mince is perfect for fish burgers or even thai fish cakes if you add some curry paste to the mix. To be honest, I always make sure to have some leftover mince for a juicy burger…

It is a simple 5 ingredient concoction, easily thrown together and quite tasty on its own. Once formed, the balls are poached gently in a flavorful Chinese masterstock, permeating with the saltiness of soy sauce, zestiness of ginger and coriander root and sweetness from brown sugar, star anise, cardamom and cinnamon. Best of all you are avoiding all the nasty additives that are commonly found in pre-packaged fish balls, and there are a few I’ve checked. You could just as easily poach them in vegetable stock too, and freeze them for use at a later date in laksa, combination noodle soup or even in a vegetable soup instead of chicken.

The master stock is then strained to produce a rich, dark brown but clear broth. As the dish is served cold the flavours need to be a little more intense than they would be in a warm broth. Now the amazing part happens when you taste the first bite. The master stock flavour is encapsulated in the jelly and as the jelly begins to melt, the flavours begin to dance in your mouth. Combined with the sweetness of the fish and a little kick from wasabi served on the side it is one of my favourite (weird but oh so good) food combinations!

The Polish version is my ultimate coming home food when I’m visiting family, I can eat this for days but I think I might have uncovered a new favourite. Yuuuuum!


Don’t forget, each comment on the Royal Selangor Get Your Jelly On challenge posts on my blog (Day 1, Day 2, etc)  is your entry to win an Olympus VG-110 camera. Giveaway is open worldwide! Entries close October 30, midnight AEST. Winner will be announced on the blog on October 31.

Makes 2 serves (20 balls)

5 ingredient fish balls in Chinese masterstock jelly

To make fish balls for every day use you could simply poach them in vegetable stock, and freeze them for use at a later date in laksa, combination noodle soup or even in a vegetable soup instead of chicken. Or shape into patties, dip into breadcrumbs and fry for yummy wholesome fish burgers!

For the fish ball mixture:

  • 250g sea perch fillets // or other white fish
  • 40g day old bread (I used some hamburger bun)
  • 1/3 cup milk // or other non-dairy milk substitute
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 medium onion

For the masterstock:

  • 2 cups salt reduced chicken stock
  • 40g coriander roots, smashed
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 knob of ginger (5cm), sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 cardamom pods, smashed

For the masterstock jelly:

  • 1.5 cups (375ml) masterstock from the above recipe
  • 1 tbsp gelatine

Tip: put the masterstock on the boil while you prepare the fish mince mixture.

To make the masterstock: place all ingredients into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook stock for at least 30 minutes for the flavours to infuse.

To make the fish balls: place bread and milk into a bowl and allow it to soak up the milk. Dice onion finely and cook down in a small frypan until slightly translucent. Set aside to cool down a little.

Cut fish into small chunks and place in a bowl of a food processor (I used my Braun’s stick blender’s chopping attachment), Process, shaking and agitating the fish unti it is well minced and resembles a uniform paste.

Drain any excess milk from the bread – it should be soggy but not dripping. Place into the food processor along with the cooked onion and white pepper. Process until the mixture is combined.

To shape the fishballs: Take about a tablespoon of mixture and roll in your hands to form a ball. Repeat with the remaining mixture until you have 20 balls. Use leftover mince to make burgers or by all means feel free to cook them all in masterstock and freeze. Tip: wear surgical or latex gloves when rolling the mince – no messy hands!

To cook the fishballs: pop 5 fish balls at a time into the simmering stock, cook for about 4-5 minutes then remove with a slotted spoon and allow to cool. They should be juicy and soft but cooked through (opaque in colour in the middle).

To make the masterstock jelly: drain the masterstock with a cheesecloth-lined sieve. You should have about 1.5 cups. Add gelatine and mix until it has melted.

To assemble: place moulds, upside down, into sturdy mugs. Fill with fish balls, distributing them quite evenly and working around the walls of the mould. Top with masterstock and gelatine broth. Refrigerate for about 4 hours or overnight.

To serve: place jelly mould into a mu full of hot water for a few seconds for the jelly to release. Position your serving plate on top of the mould, turn both upside down and remove the mould. Serve with some fresh or creamed horseradish or wasabi.


anh October 3, 2011 at 8:38 am

what a marvelous dish!

Wholesome Cook October 3, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Thanks Anh!

Nicole October 3, 2011 at 9:26 am

I didn’t realise how easy it would be to make fish balls at home, that’s a great recipe. And the masterstock jelly idea sounds interesting and very “modern”.

Sharni October 3, 2011 at 9:28 am

Sounds totally awesome! I’d love to try this soon. All your ideas so far have been quite different and unique, good luck and looking forward to seeing more!

kezzas October 3, 2011 at 9:35 am

Wow – love your presentation. Very creative. Sounds like one for the menu for my next visit!

Wholesome Cook October 3, 2011 at 7:53 pm

It will be my pleasure to make some for you! :-) visit soon.

kiki October 3, 2011 at 10:48 am

WOW this is awesome!!! i’m going to give it a go today! homemade is so much better than store bought! :DDD

leaf (the indolent cook) October 3, 2011 at 11:11 am

This is really something different! And really appeals to the Chinese in me. :D

Wholesome Cook October 3, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Ha! Thank you! And I suspected it would!

martina October 3, 2011 at 12:18 pm

What a great recipe. Thanks Martyna.

Wholesome Cook October 3, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Thank you for your compliment.

Jun October 3, 2011 at 2:43 pm

I don’t read Chinese, but I love your plate! I didn’t know that we can make fills balls using the traditional Western style of adding milk and breadcrumbs. It is nice to know so many new tricks each day during this challenge.

Love the idea

Wholesome Cook October 3, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Thanks Jun, it’s amazing how recipes from different cultures can be so interchangeable, isn’t it?

I got the plate from a gallery in Beijing, it supposedly translates to friendship in fate… :-)

Jesica @ Pencil Kitchen October 3, 2011 at 4:14 pm

I didnt expect it to be fishballs! haha :) CREATIVE!

Wholesome Cook October 3, 2011 at 7:40 pm

;-) expect the unexpected!

muppy October 3, 2011 at 5:03 pm

what a grand idea! very clever of you :)

Wholesome Cook October 3, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Thanks Muppy!

mycookinghut October 3, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Nice! I really love the idea of using fish ball in the jelly!

sara (Belly Rumbles) October 3, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Your recipes are are getting more creative each day!

Wholesome Cook October 3, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Now the pressure is on me… :-)

billy @ A Table For Two October 3, 2011 at 6:46 pm

love fish balls. especially home made ones. love the plate! :)

Wholesome Cook October 3, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Thanks Billy, fish balls are awesome. About the plate: I picked it up from a gallery in Beijing as a keepsake. It was love at first sight!

rsmacaalay October 3, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Wow, the presentation awes me. Very interesting dish indeed, love to try it

Wholesome Cook October 3, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Thank you! It’s pretty easy to make so I thoroughly recommend trying :-)

Anne S October 3, 2011 at 7:31 pm

I really like that plate too, it’s gorgeous! And your dish is very inventive, good work!

Wholesome Cook October 3, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Thanks, on both counts. I bought the plate at a gallery in Beijing, fell in love with it from the moment I saw it.

Three-Cookies October 3, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Very creative and unique use of the mould for sure – fish balls in jelly – never saw that coming.

gertrude October 3, 2011 at 11:08 pm

Very cool and creative dish.

Megan (Best of Fates) October 4, 2011 at 12:56 am

Wow, what a creative dish!

Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide October 4, 2011 at 1:54 am

These are just amazing!

Cheah October 4, 2011 at 2:24 am

A very well presented post and admiring the plate as well!

Sissi October 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm

It looks like a savoury version of your previous creation. I don’t know how you have come up with it! It looks appealing and impressive. I am sure the masterstock makes the jelly exceptional. (Luckily you haven’t put carp in jelly ;-) I was scared at first when I read “fish in jelly” and “Polish”: I hate carp in jelly).

Wholesome Cook October 4, 2011 at 7:03 pm

I hate carp in jelly too! Blergh, we stopped eating it ages ago, and Mum would either make the Polish version of this, or just use sea perch instead. Much nicer!

sunnythiknits October 7, 2011 at 3:14 am

I should make this when I visit my mom.

TC October 7, 2011 at 7:21 am

oh, that looks cool!

{Day 8} Beetroot and pine nut risotto with Chevre dressing « Wholesome Cook October 8, 2011 at 8:23 am

[…] its pinkness – pink is breast cancer awareness colour. I’ve gone out on a limb with the fish balls in masterctock jelly, so I needed to play it somewhat safe with the beets, I […]

Roxana B October 10, 2011 at 4:58 am

Beautiful presentation!

{Day 11} Healthy fish fingers and ovenbaked chips « Wholesome Cook October 11, 2011 at 8:22 am

[…] Day 3 of the Get your Jelly On challenge, when I made the 5 ingredient fish balls in Chinese masterstock jelly, I mentioned how versatile the fish mince was and how I often used it to make fishburger […]

Joshua Hudson October 11, 2011 at 11:50 am

Looks yummy!

Shu Han October 12, 2011 at 12:00 am

that is one interesting recipe! i like fishballs, and i love good chinese stock, and i like jelly, but altogether? wow that’s new!

Vivian - vxdollface October 12, 2011 at 3:47 pm

very interesting! love your plate ^^

Jamila October 14, 2011 at 3:41 am

I’ve never had fish balls before, but I’m a wasbi lover. I think I would try this out.

Sandy October 14, 2011 at 6:39 am

This might be worth making just to see the expressions on my family’s faces when I announced we are having fish balls in jelly tonight!

Zoe Roberts October 14, 2011 at 8:04 am

Wow. This looks and sounds amazing.

Amber October 15, 2011 at 2:49 am

Wow, really interesting and yummy looking take on a chinese treat.

Sarah O. October 15, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Haha for some reason this reminds me of the scene in Julie and Julia where she makes the aspic.

Mary October 17, 2011 at 8:57 am

The mixture of flavors sounds so appetizing! :-)

Mez October 18, 2011 at 11:23 am

That looks AMAZING!!!

I’m all for a savory jelly, Hamish is making cucumber jelly mini, mini tiny cubes today at the restaurant to be served with a sashimi type dish.

Those fish balls would be SO great in a noodle soup, yum, yum!


jasmine1485 October 18, 2011 at 4:29 pm

This one was really unexpected :) It’s like a solid soup, and I love the deep, dark colour of the savoury jelly

Lenna (veganlenna) October 19, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I would have never thought of something like that, but it actually looks very interesting!

{Day 20} Prawn cocktail, the post-modernist version « Wholesome Cook October 21, 2011 at 8:31 am

[…] fiance, Hamish.  He is a chef and makes killer chicken wings! Anyway, she left a comment on my Fish balls in Chinese masterstock jelly saying that Hamish was actually making cucumber jelly for a dish at the restaurant and that’s […]

Ming October 25, 2011 at 4:19 am

Hmmm.. I love fish balls!

Sharn October 30, 2011 at 2:30 pm

This entry got me SO excited!! First of all, it’s so different to everything else I’d seen in the comp so far, but secondly, because I was raised in a Jewish home and every Sabbath we’d have Gefilte Fish in jelly and horseradish, which I loved! As I got older I developed a strong love of Asian cuisine and this is like the perfect blend of the two! SO happy :D

22+ Quick Meals with Mince | Wholesome Cook October 19, 2013 at 12:49 pm

[…] {Day 3} 5 ingredient fish balls in Chinese masterstock jelly […]


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