Monday, February 28, 2011

Cabbage Meatball in Fish Bone Broth

I love soups!  This is one of those home-made comfort soup that I love to cook for my family.  You have the meatball, sweet & soft cabbage and yummy soup all in one bowl of goodness.  

To prepare the rich, flavourful fish stock, I used some fresh fish bones, a handful of small dried scallops and two to three pieces of fried 扁鱼 (or 左口鱼 in Cantonese).  You can also use ikan bilis to replace dried scallops and/or 扁鱼, but the flavour will be different.   For this soup,  I used the heads and bones from about twelve "沙堆鱼" (looks like ikan kuning, but lighter in colour).  You can use fish bones from other kinds of fish.  To save time, I would usually make one big pot of fish stock, cool and freeze it in several small tubs.  Just defrost the required amount when you need it for soups or rich gravy.  

To make the fish bone stock:
Heat a little oil in wok over high heat.  Add few slices of ginger, then add the fish bones to brown on both sides.  Add the dried scallops (or ikan bilis) and stir fry gently to combine with the fish bone.  Add water (about 2 litres) and bring it to boil.  Transfer to pot, add fried 扁鱼 and simmer over low heat for an hour.   

The crucial part in preparing the fish stock is high heat + ginger + thorough stir-fry of fish bones/ikan bilis.  This will bring out the aroma and remove any fishy smell.  You can add a dash of cooking wine if desired.  The result is white and creamy fish stock without the addition of evaporated milk or MSG.  

To make the meatballs:
The most delicious bouncy and juicy meatballs is made by mincing the pork (with some fats in pork) with a chopper.  My mum prepares these wonderful meatballs in the traditional way (i.e. mincing with a chopper) and you can taste the different in the texture of the meatballs.  I skip this tedious step and bought ready-minced pork instead.  To add "bounciness" to the meatball, I minced it again lightly with a chopper before mixing it with other ingredients/seasonings (chopped water chestnut, chopped bamboo shoots, chopped mushrooms, a little 扁鱼粉, oyster sauce, sesame oil, corn starch etc).  Stir the mixture with a pair of chopsticks (in one direction) till a sticky paste is formed.

To make the soup:
Heat a little oil in wok/pot over high heat.  Add 2 slices of ginger and Chinese cabbages.  Stir fry to bring out aroma.  Add equal amount of fish stock and water into pot.  For richer flavour, you can use more fish stock or decrease the amount of water used.  Bring it to boil, add some sliced carrot, then simmer for 15 minutes till cabbages soften.  Bring the soup to boil on high.  Scoop minced meat mixture with a teaspoon, round it gently with your hands and drop it into the pot of soup.  Cook for another 3 minutes or till meat balls are cooked.


  1. I am very lousy in cooking dish, hope to learn more from you ^_^

  2. I love soups too...:)! I can have soups everyday, so thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe!

  3. Hi, thanks for leaving a comment at my Raspberry Cheesecake Slice posting. I just saw it. Sorry about that. Your blog is wonderful. There are so many recipes here I wanted to try out.

  4. Internet is certainly amazing and here I have visitors from Singapore, Germany and USA. Thanks for dropping by!

    neyeeloh: I was reading through your blog just 2 days back (through Cuisine Paradise's link) and so happy to find another Chinese food blog. I love reading Chinese food blogs, but I am just too lazy to blog in Chinese. My dishes are mainly home-cooked food, still much more to learn - so let's get cooking everyday!

    Cooking Gallery: wow... your Gingerbread house is so beautiful! I must mark it down and try making it this Christmas. Already drooling at the picture of your guo-tie...

    ICook4Fun: I enjoy reading your blog cos it has baking, Western cooking and our Asian cooking (everything under one roof!).


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