Fish is just one of the many foods that you either love or you hate. Thanks to its strong smell when raw, and the fiddly preparation process, fish is either something that you enjoy cooking or something that you avoid altogether.
There are lots of variations in the way that you can prepare fish to eat it. Some people like to fry their fish, others like to bake it, while a lot of people like to transform their fish into a paste.
Fish paste is especially popular in Chinese cuisine, and it is used in a lot of dishes. You can buy fish paste in quite a few grocery stores, but nothing can beat the taste of this mixture when it is made fresh.
With that in mind, in this guide, I’ll be telling you exactly how to prepare a yummy fish paste from scratch. So, if you want to find out more, then keep on reading.
What is Fish Paste made of?
On the surface, this might seem like a pretty daft question. After all, fish paste has to be made of fish, doesn’t it? Of course, it does! As its name suggests, fish paste is made out of fish, but the type of fish that you use is entirely your choice.
Different cuisines will use different fish to make the paste, but I have always found that a mixture of anchovies, mackerel, and pilchards is the best combination.
These fish are fairly small, and they have flavors that complement each other perfectly. Especially when they are combined. These fish are then combined with other ingredients including water and salt to form a paste.
While there are other ingredients added to season this paste, the main flavor comes from the fish themselves, and that is what makes fish paste so great.
Who invented Fish Paste?
You might expect fish paste to be a fairly modern invention, but this dish has actually been around for centuries and centuries. In fact, this dish has been traced all the way back to Ancient Greece in the 3rd-4th century BC.
Fish was a popular food back in Ancient Greece because the Greeks had perfected how to catch them. So, the majority of dishes included fish as the main ingredient.
Back in the times of the Ancient Greeks, fish paste was made by combining and fermenting multiple layers of different fish.
The recipe has evolved over the years and through the different generations, and the fish paste that exists today is a lot saltier than what the Ancient Greeks would have eaten. But, the main principle behind this dish is still the same.
Now that fish paste is used in a lot of different cuisines, there are minor changes in each dish. But, let’s take a look at how fish paste is made in Chinese cuisine.
Ingredients: You Will Need
The key to making fish paste is to prepare your ingredients in advance. To help you out, here’s a complete list of everything that you will need to make your fish paste.
- ¾ pounds of fish fillets (you can use any fish, but for an authentic Chinese cuisine flavor, I would recommend using sea bass, rock cod, or any white fish)
- 3 tbsp minced ham or chicken fat
- 2 tbsp minced scallion
- 2 tbsp dry sherry
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- ½ tsp fresh ginger juice
- 1 egg white
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp chicken broth
- Measuring jug
- Sharp Knife
- Food mill
- Large mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon
Once you have gathered all the ingredients that you need for the recipe, then you are ready to get started. Here’s a step-by-step guide for you to follow.
The Recipe: Step-by-Step
Before you start preparing your fish paste, read this guide thoroughly to ensure that you know exactly what you are doing before you begin.
Step One – Prepare your Cornstarch
Before you begin preparing your fish paste, you first need to prepare your cornstarch. You will need to take the tablespoon of chicken broth and dilute this with cold water.
Once this is done, you should then take your 2 teaspoons of cornstarch and add it to the cold chicken broth mixture. Stir thoroughly, then set aside until later.
Step Two – Prepare your Fish
You should then take your fish and begin preparing it for the paste. To make your fish paste, you will need to chop all of your white fish incredibly finely. So, begin by removing any obvious bones from your fish, and then start chopping.
Cut your fish as small as you possibly can, as this will make the process of mixing it a lot easier.
Step Three – Use your Food Mill
After your fish has been chopped, you should then add it to your food mill. Even if you have chopped it up as small as you possibly can, you should then run your fish through your food mill.
This will ensure that no filament remains in the fish and that your fish is completely safe to eat when transformed into a paste.
Step Four – Begin Mixing
Once your fish is fully prepared, you should add it along with all the other ingredients into your large mixing bowl. It is easiest to begin by adding the dry ingredients and then slowly introduce the wet ingredients as you mix.
You should begin by mixing the ingredients with a wooden spoon, but as the paste coagulates, you might find that you have to use your hands to mix.
Step Five – Serve or Use in Another Recipe
Your fish paste is then complete. This recipe makes roughly 1.5 cups of fish paste, which you can then serve, or use in another recipe. Some great recipes that include fish paste are fish roll, fish cakes, and fish balls.
In short, this has been a complete guide to how to make a yummy fish paste that can be used in a variety of different Chinese cuisine dishes. So, if you want to attempt making your fish paste from scratch, follow this recipe for a stress-free process.