Spanish Mackerel Fish Balls Soup

The mackerel fish is utilised to the maximum in this dish with the fish meat for the fishballs and the fish bones for the soup. Though this is not the official type of fish to be used in the commercial fishballs that we often patronised, but the natural taste and freshness of the fishball soup made from scratch is something that we probably unable to find elsewhere. I used Tianjin Preserved vegetables 天津冬菜 to season the soup itself with a touch of light soya sauce to enhance the flavour and the rest of it comes purely from the fish bones.

If you’re concerned about having to de-bone the fish and might not be able to do it professionally liked myself, you can actually get the fish sellers to do it for you nowadays which is literally what I did as well. So everything came nicely de-boned with the fish bones separately packed as well. This definitely saves a great deal of hassle and makes your cooking so much a breeze.

Spanish Mackerel Fish Balls Soup

Recipe by Eat What TonightCourse: MainCuisine: ChineseDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time




  • For The Fishballs :
  • 1/2 fresh Spanish Mackerel Fish, scrape the fish meat to get approx. 170g-180g of flesh

  • 2 tbsp ice water (adjust with more if necessary to get a softer texture)

  • 1 tsp corn flour

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • For the Fishball Soup :
  • 2 Mackerel fish heads and bones

  • 1 1/2 tbsp cooking oil

  • 2 tsp Tianjin Preserved Vegetables 天津冬菜

  • 2 tsp light soya sauce

  • 1 tsp fish sauce

  • 1/4 tsp pepper

  • Water

  • Some diced spring onions


  • Step 1 to 3 for the Fishballs : Scrape away the fish meat from the skin with a metal spoon to get the meat. Add the fish meat with ice water to the mixer and blend till paste texture.
  • Add salt and corn flour to the fish mixture and use hand to throw the mixture continuously against the base of the mixing bowl (around 10 times) to give the texture more elasticity.
  • Wet the hands slightly and using the thumb and first finger, squeeze the fish mixture into rounds and scrape off using a spoon. Add the fishballs to a bowl of water with a little salt. Continue with the rest till all fish mixture are used up.
  • For the Fishball Soup : Heat up oil in pot and panfry the fish heads and bones till lightly brown. Add enough water to cover the fish entirely.
  • Cook till it boils before reducing to low simmer. Cover the pot and allow it to continue simmering for another 3 hours till the bones dis-integrated.
  • Filter away the bones and impurities with a sieve to reserve the pure fish stock.
  • Add the soup stock to pot again. Season with Tianjin Preserved Vegetables and the rest of the seasoning and allows it to boil again.
  • Add fishballs and once the fishballs float to the surface of the soup (which means they are cooked – so do not overcook), off the heat.
  • Top with some diced spring onions before serving and enjoy !

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