That’s right: fish balls. I know, it’s snigger-worthy, but that’s what they’re called!
Now that we have that out of our systems, here is a recipe for what I think is the best curry I’ve ever made. Sadly I ended up not really liking the fish… spheres…, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, and I’d never tried them before. I was expecting a texture like a fish cake, and I got the texture of proper fish but sliding around in a thin batter. Hard to describe, and the taste was good, but the texture put me right off. You can get beef balls (simmer down) too, I wouldn’t mind trying those another time, to see if I like them better.
The curry sauce was based on this recipe for chicken coconut noodle soup, which I made with a medium amount of success (when it says ‘stir constantly to prevent curdling’, pay attention). The picture to the right is my end result, and shows the soup topped with spring onions, coriander leaves, toasted chili flakes and a boiled egg. I made it really thick so it was a stew rather than a soup, and the thin egg noodles soaked that sauce up beautifully. When I’m done writing, I’m going to have some of the defrosted leftovers for tonight’s dinner, and just looking at that picture has definitely increased my words per minute.
To make my own version, which was a mix of vegetables and fish items in a thin but powerful curry sauce, I used the following, which made enough for two:
- one small onion, diced
- 1 tsp garlic oil
- 1 tsp paprika
- 5 – 6 chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced
- a little water, to prevent sticking
- 2 tsp garlic and coriander seasoning
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- 2 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
- 400g tin coconut milk
- handful of beansprouts
- one small head of broccoli, cut into florets
- pack of chili flavoured fish balls (from the Chinese supermarket, if you fancy trying them)
- 1 1/2 blocks of egg noodles
- sprinkle of sesame oil
- one hard-boiled egg (two would have been better)
First, I cooked the onion in the garlic oil until softened and transparent, then I added the paprika, mushrooms and salt, and stirred until everything was well coated. I used a little water to stop anything from burning or sticking to the pot, and to help the dry paprika mix with the other ingredients. I then added all the spices, the fish sauce, the soy and the sugar, and once more stirred to mix and coat. Then the coconut milk went in, and I simmered for ten minutes or so until slightly thickened. I added the beansprouts, broccoli and fish balls, and removed from the heat.
I was making the curry early in the day, and was going to reheat for dinner, which is why I took it off the heat. I didn’t want to cook the broccoli and beansprouts, only to reheat and therefore over-cook them later. Overcooked broccoli is a thing of sadness. When we were about ready to eat, I put the egg on to hard-boil. For me, this means boiling for ten minutes, though there was a little debate over this in the G man’s kitchen as he reckons ten minutes is a bit too long. Still, I was doing the cooking, so ten minutes it was. After I put the egg on, I put the curry into a saucepan over a medium-low heat. The fish balls packet said they should be heated through for five minutes, and I figured that they would take a few minutes to get up to speed from room temperature. After the egg had been on for seven minutes, I boiled a kettle, then put the noodles on to cook. Once they were done I drained them and sprinkled in some sesame oil to stop them from sticking together, and left in the sieve while I peeled the now boiled egg. Finally, to serve, I put the noodles on the plate and topped with the curry, spooning over some extra sauce to really soak into the noodles. I added slices of egg and it was ready to serve.
It’s not a neat plate of food, that’s for sure, but I liked the ‘rustic’ nature of it, it somehow made it seem more authentic. These are the best photos of the bunch; imagine how rough the other ones looked. The phrase ‘car crash’ wouldn’t be unwarranted. Heating the curry for such a short time before serving meant that the broccoli and beansprouts still had some bite to them, which is what I wanted. Making the curry ahead also gave it time for the flavours to develop, which was ideal, but I could have finished cooking it straight away and it still would have worked, it just might not have had the same depth of flavour.
If you’re going to make this kind of curry, make sure to taste it all the time as you cook. The above amounts were balanced to my own taste; you might prefer more fish sauce, or more sugar, or more heat, and you can adjust the ingredients to match that. You could also take more inspiration from the LC recipe and use chicken, or add spring onions before serving. The choice, as they say, is yours.