After posting a pic of this finished spicy fish balls on Facebook, someone commented “must be a male fish!”. Rude talk aside, I thought it was funny. I don’t recall if it was in Guyana or in Barbados I first had something similar, but I do recall how tasty they were, so I knew back then I’d have to come up with a recipe sooner or later. In keeping with this month’s theme of party food with a Caribbean twist for the holiday season.. I give you the most delicious fish balls you’ll ever try. With the use of panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, you’ll see how international this recipe really is.
WARNING! The diced scotch bonnet will give this a wicked kick, so feel free to cut back on it or leave it out if you’re overly concerned about the heat (chicken).
1 lb fresh cod fillets
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs (any bread crumbs should work)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper (diced finely)
2-3 cups veg oil for frying
1/2 cup flour for dusting
Wash and pat the fish dry with some paper towels. If you’re using frozen (pre packaged) cod, give it a good squeeze as there’s usually a lot of water in it. Then cut into chunks and place into a food processor. The entire recipe will be done in the food processor, but if you don’t have one, don’t fret. Simply chop the cod fish very fine and mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.
Give the fish a few pulses in the food processor and remember to scrape down the side so you get an even consistency. Then add all the other ingredients except the flour and the veg oil for frying.
Please remember to chop the herbs very fine and crush the garlic. The scotch bonnet pepper should also be very fine and do remember to wear gloves when handling them. Additionally, wash your hands with soap and water immediately after handing.
Pulse for a minute or two (remember to stop to scrape down), until you have a well mixed consistency.
Now it’s time to shape this into the small balls for frying. Take about a teaspoon full amount and roll in your hands to form the ball. Then toss in the flour (all purpose flour) to evenly coat the outside. This will help you get that lovely golden brown colour when fried. Be sure to do them all before you start to fry, as they will cook very fast. You can place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet so they don’t stick as they await their turn in the hot oil
Heat your oil on a medium/high heat and fry these for 3-4 minutes. I love using my wok for this as it maintains an even heat and with the high sides, I don’t make a mess on the stove. Drain on paper towels and serve with one of the many sauces I’ve shared over the past few years. Check the recipe index for the tamarind sauce, there’s the honey mustard mango sauce, the shado beni sauce and about 8 other spicy sauces there.
These fish balls are excellent on their own if you don’t feel like making a dipping sauce and if all fails, just get some ranch salad dressing from the grocery store and you’re good to go. These are best served warm in case you’re wondering.