Let me begin by saying two things:
1. Fish balls can be a great alternative to traditional meatballs that are normally made with bad-fat meats like beef, lamb, pork, or some combination of the three. Fish balls have the same texture and mouthfeel, and you can season them the way you’d season your favorite meatballs (though, I’d omit the cheese; fish + cheese = yuck).
2. Please don’t pretend that fish balls are an “alternative” to meat balls. Sure, they have a very simialr texture, but they’re not going to taste just like those Ikea Swedish meatballs or your favorite Italian beef meatballs. And that’s probably a good thing; it is fish afterall. You shouldn’t expect ground Cod to taste like ground beef.
I’ve cleared the air about the two tensions I often feel about foods that serve as “alternatives.” I felt the same tension the other night when I posted about the braised tofu recipe. Sure, tofu is an alternative way to get protein (fish balls are a good-fat (Omega 3) alternative to bad fat meatballs), but it’s not like swapping bacon for country ham. It’s more like swapping apples for oranges. It’s a totally different thing, a totally different flavor.
And it’s just that: different. Not better, not worse. Different. If you eat an apple expecting an orange, you’ll be disappointed. If you eat tofu expecting a pork chop, you’ll be very disappointed. It’s best not to have those weird expectations when you eat something as an “alternative.” It’s just frustrating for your tastebuds.
That aside, fish balls are amaze balls.
I’ve only had them twice. The first time I made Italian fish balls, and last night I made North African Fish balls. Both were scrumptious.
Italian Fish Balls
The Italian Fish balls are served in a tomato sauce and have all the flavors you expect in a good Italian meatball: parsley, capers, pepper, onion. Sauteed Broccoli Rabe would be a great side or Wilted Spinach.
Note about the Italian fish ball recipe:
I did not fry the fish balls; instead, roll them out and place on a baking sheet. Chill in the fridge. Make the sauce; when the sauce boils, place the meatballs in the sauce and then lower the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes until cooked through.
Additionally, don’t feel obligated to find monkfish; cod or haddock will work just fine. I also added in garlic to the meatballs and the sauce! For less cholesterol, use just the egg white when mixing the fish ball, instead of the whole egg.
North African Fish Balls
The North African Fish Balls are a delight as well; a spicy tomato sauce seasoned with cayenne and allspice; the fish is seasoned with cumin, coriander, parsley, and garlic. Cous Cous would be a fitting side (after all, it’s the food so nice they named it twice), but I had a couple of baguette slices and roasted broccoli with mine.
alternative to traditional meatballs fish dish!