So I tried making fish balls using the recipe at https://thishungrykitten.com/2013/11/14/homemade-chinese-fish-balls-the-way-they-should-be-made/ and I don't think I did anything wrong, but the result is certainly not what I had been hoping for or what was described. Specifically, the fish balls fell apart extremely easily (basically dissolved in very lightly boiling water) and weren't bouncy (the only fish balls I've had have been frozen fish balls from the local asian market used in hot pot). So I'll just describe what I did and ask what I may have done wrong.
I went to Walmart and got 2 pounds of frozen cod fillets, with the bones and skin already removed. I kept them in the freezer for a few days (under a week). After thawing the cod in the sink for an hour or two, I took 3 of the fillets (relatively small, total weight between all 3 probably around a pound) and chopped them into 1-inch cubes. Then I put them in the food processor and turned it on for 2 minutes. I removed them, added 1/4 tsp salt and some black pepper (since I didn't have any white pepper) and started throwing the paste (into a metal bowl so that it wouldn't go flying everywhere). I slammed it probably around 100 times in there, then added a tablespoon of corn starch (with a little water), mixed it in, shaped a fishball, and put it into some very lightly boiling water. The water quickly turned a cloudy white and started foaming, and when I tried to scoop it back up it slipped through the slots of the spoon and dissolved entirely. I tried to thicken up the paste and help it hold together by adding more corn starch, but every time it just dissolved rapidly. Eventually I switched to deep frying, where it managed to stay together, but when I bit into the ball it wasn't bouncy at all.
In addition to asking a general "what did I do wrong / what should I have done?", I have some specific questions:
- Can frozen fish be used for fish balls? I understand the recipes all call for fresh fish, but my search-engine-fu has failed to tell me whether frozen fish is an acceptable substitute (I live in Nebraska, "fresh saltwater fish" as a requirement has some logistical difficulties)
- Does it work to use cod for fish balls?
- Do properly-made fish balls have issues with falling apart during cooking?
- Roughly how hard should fish paste be slammed (I wasn't exactly going pitching speed, just "toss across the room speed", if that makes sense)? Are there effective alternatives to slamming?