Fish Paste

Fish paste is at the base of innumerable classic dishes–Fish Balls, Fish Cakes, Fish Roll, even substituting for shrimp paste in Shrimp Toast. Some Chinese fish stores sell it ready-made, but it tends to be salty and contains monosodium glutamate. We use a small amount of fat in the paste, which makes an enormous difference in richness and flavor. You’ll find that a food processor is a tremendous help.

Ingredients

Basic Fish Paste

  • ¾ pound fish fillets (rock cod, sea bass, or any white-fleshed fish), finely chopped to a paste
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons minced scallion
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons minced Smithfield ham fat or chicken fat
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ginger juice
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold chicken broth

Method

  1. Put the finely chopped fish through a food mill to remove any filaments. (This step is unnecessary if the chopping is done in a food processor.)

  2. Mix the fish with the remaining ingredients to form a smooth paste. Use it to make any of the following recipes. Yields 1 to 1½ cups.

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