How to make Korean fish cakes from scratch!
(This is part I of How to Make Korean Fish Cakes. If you want to find out How to Make Korean Fish Cakes for Soup, click this link.)
The mystery of how to make Korean fish cakes from scratch has been one of the top 5 questions my readers have had over the years. Do you have this same question too?
If so, you will be glad to hear that I will be sharing my version of Korean fish cake recipe in this post and also in the next post. The reason I separated these recipes into two parts is that they are for different purpose. In this post, I’ll cover how to make Korean fish cakes for appetisers/side dishes/snacks and in the next post I’ll cover how to make Korean fish cakes for soup. Does this sound good?
Now let’s talk about the fish cake. Korean fish cake is a quite accessible item to me, so I never bothered to cook it before myself. Besides, I thought it was rather a complicated process.
To my surprise, I found that it is very easy and quick to make – under 30 mins and very delicious and nutritious compared to what you get from a square packet version. The only down side of making this from scratch (other than it being more expensive – it cost me about AUD $1 per 1 Tbsp size fish cake ball) – is that you will never want to go back to using the packet version. That will just feel so artificial, fake, unhealthy and unnatural.
I hope you don’t think my pictures look like some sort of chicken popcorn. I reiterate this. They are FISH CAKE (balls). In flavour wise, it’s very close to Korean hot bar (Hotbar, 핫바), except that it’s in ball shapes not bar shapes. The reason is it’s a bit trickier to make it in bar shapes. You probably need to add a lot more flour and starch to keep the shape firm. But I wanted to maximise the meat content and minimise the gluing agent (aka flour and starch), hence the ball shapes. 😉
As a side note, making hand crafted fish cakes (Suje Eomuk, 수제어묵) at home is a really hot trend right now in Korea, as one of the Korean celebrity actors – Cha Seung-won (차승원) made them on a very popular cable TV show – Three meals a day (삼시세끼). The show is all about cooking with limited resources in remote rural area of Korea. I haven’t seen the show yet, but it sounds intriguing.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy trying out my recipe. It’s such a people pleaser. Serve it at your next party as a finger food or for your kid’s lunch box. You name it! Happy cooking!
Recipe adapted from Korean Cookand magazine
Ingredients for Korean fish cake, About 28 fish balls that are 1 Tbsp size
- 250g (0.55 pounds) boneless skinless white fish fillet (I used fresh goldband snapper. Cod or pollock is ok too. More information in the Notes section.)
- 150g (0.33 pounds) skinless squid body (Squid legs can be used too. I used frozen squid.)
- 100g (0.22 pounds) shelled prawns (I used frozen banana prawns.)
- 55g (1.9 ounces) yellow onion – peeled & rinsed
- 30g (1.1 ounces) carrots – rinsed & peeled
- 25g (0.9 ounces) red capsicum (bell pepper) – rinsed & seeds removed (if necessary)
- 20g (0.7 ounces) chives – rinsed & stalks chopped in index finger length
- 1 extra large egg white
- 1 tsp rice wine (mirim)
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 2 Tbsp potato starch
- 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 3 to 4 cups of vegetable oil for deep frying
*1 Tbsp = 15 ml
How to Make Korean Fish Cakes
* Any frozen seafood should be defrosted first before being prepared.
1. Individually rinse the fish, squid and prawns in cold water and pat dry them separately with paper towel. Cut the fish and squid into a few chunks. (No need to cut the prawns) Put all of them into a food processor and grind them finely. (It takes between 30 sec to 1 min). Move the ground seafood batch into a large mixing bowl.
2. Separately pat dry all the vegetables with paper towel. Put them into a food processor and grind them. (It takes about 10 sec). Move the ground vegetables batch into the large mixing bowl.
3.Add the rest of the ingredients (egg white, rice wine, sugar, salt, starch and flour) into the bowl and mix them well. Prepare two large flat plates and lay down some waxed paper (e.g. baking paper) on top. Scoop out 1 Tbsp of the fish cake mixture and take it out using another spoon (tea spoon size is good). Place the fish cake ball on to the waxed paper. Repeat this for the rest of the mixture.
4. Put the vegetable oil into a deep sauce pan and bring it to boil on high heat until it bubbles (about 5 mins). Reduce the heat to medium or medium low. Add some fish cake balls (no more than 6 balls at one time, it will depend on the size of your sauce pan) using tongs into a pan and deep fry them until they are cooked (usually for 2 to 3 mins). Outside of the fish ball is “very lightly” crispy and inner is very soft.
5. Take the fried fish cake balls out using a strainer. Move them onto some waxed baking paper or paper towel to soak up some oil. Cool down for 5 to 10 mins.
6. Serve & enjoy! (You can serve it with some tomato sauce/ketchup/mustard sauce). Or you can use this as an ingredient for other fish cake dishes (e.g. fish cake stir fry).
- A common white fish fillet used for Korean fish cakes is cod or pollock. Though I used Australian caught fresh goldband snapper. (It was the only white fish available at the market the other day.) And, boy! it was delicious! If you get a chance, you should give it a go. I think the type of fish you use, not only the freshness of the fish (i.e.fresh or frozen) but also the species of fish have some effect on the overall taste of the fish cakes at the end. It’s quite subtle but I could notice the difference when I was using fresh goldband snapper fillet and frozen cod fillet (this was in my 2nd time testing). The first one was way better!
- You can use a different ratio of seafood to mine according to your preference. I used a ratio of fish fillet (5): squid (3) :prawn (2). Just note that squid and prawn gives a more chewy and elastic texture than the fish fillet.
- If you don’t have a food processor you could try using a hand held blender. I’ve never used it before so I can’t really know for sure, but I think it will work better than the classic style (stand alone type) blender. I tried my Vitamix to mince my seafood but it didn’t work well as the fish stuck below the blades and all it did was empty spinning. It’s also difficult to get the food out because the blades were in the way.
- If you don’t have any electric tools to grind the meat, you can always do it manually with your hands and knife. It just takes a lot of mincing (possibly comes with your sore joints) and a lot longer time. If you are pursuing this method, the texture will be slightly different to mine.
- Watch out for oil splash during cooking as you always should.
- While you can eat this when it’s cold, it tastes best while it’s still warm. You can microwave it as needed (usually for 1 min 30 sec to 2 mins). It will vary depending on your microwave.
- Fried fish cakes that are unused can be frozen for up to 3 months. (This is based on the general frozen food guideline, not based on my experience.)
- Some other dishes you can make with these fish cakes – Fish cake stir fry (Eomuk Bokkeum, 어묵볶음 or Odeng Bokkeum, 오뎅볶음) and Korean spicy rice cakes (Ddeokbokki, 떡볶이). Of course, you can eat them on their own. It serves well as a side dish/snacks/appetiser.