Fish Ball Soup


serves 6
2 oz (50 g) fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 spring onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp (15 ml) dry sherry
1 egg white
8 oz (225 g) firm white fish fillet, skinned and cut into pieces
25 ml (5 tsp) cornflour
25 g (1 oz) lard
snipped chives to garnish

for the chinese chicken stock

2 chicken quarters
1/2 onion, thickly sliced
1 large carrot, thickly sliced
1/4 celery stick, thickly sliced
1 thin slice fresh root ginger
1 tsp (5 ml) dry sherry


1. Make the stock. Put the chicken quarters in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add 2 litres (3 1/2 pints) water and bring to the boil.

2. Skim, lower the heat, cover and simmer for l l/2 hours. Remove the chicken from the stock and set aside for use in another recipe.

3. Add the vegetables to the stock, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the root ginger and sherry, with salt to taste.

4. Remove the lid and simmer for 10 minutes more. Strain the stock into a clean saucepan, making it up to 1.25 litres (2 1/4 pints) with water if necessary. Skim off any fat on the surface and set aside.

5. To make the fish balls, sieve the root ginger and spring onion into a bowl containing 75 ml (5 tbsp) water. Stir briskly. Alternatively, process the root ginger, spring onion and water in a blender or food processor.

6. Strain the liquid into a clean bowl, discarding any solids. Add a further 75 ml (5 tbsp) water to the liquid, with the sherry and the egg white. Whisk until smooth.

7. Place the fish in a basin or large mortar and pound it to a paste. Alternatively, puree the fish in a food processor. Transfer 15 ml (1 tbsp) of the sherry mixture to a shallow bowl and add the fish. Stir in the cornflour, salt and lard, and mix thoroughly so that the ingredients bind together. The mixture should be soft and malleable; add more of the sherry mixture as necessary.

8. Form the fish mixture into balls about 4 cm (l 1/2 inches in diameter and drop them into a large saucepan of cold water.

9. Bring the water to the boil, lower the heat and simmer until the fish balls rise to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon.

10. Bring the saucepan of Chinese chicken stock to the boil. Drop in the fish balls and heat through for 1-2 minutes.

Serve immediately, garnished with the chives.

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