In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

Spicy Fish Balls.

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).


You’ll Need…

1 lb fresh cod fillets
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
2 eggs
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.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the latest cooking videos, connect with me on twitter and join our community on facebook. oh yea! leave me a comment below – it’s appreciated.

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  1. Gem
    October 27, 2020 / 7:22 am

    Greetings, Chris! In Bermuda we make these with pre-soaked salted cod and we add potatoes to the mixture. We eat them traditionally on Good Friday along with hot cross buns. Yummmmm…..

  2. Ruth Phillips
    August 4, 2016 / 4:29 pm

    Hi, can I make these before hand and refrigerate?

  3. Michelle Balentien
    May 18, 2016 / 4:35 am

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks very much for this great recipe. I have one question. Can I also use dry salted codfish or must I use only the fresh cod fillets? I quess that if I put it to soak overnight and cook it for about 15 min I would be able to use is. Am I correct about this?

    I hope to receive a reply real soon, as I want to make this recipe.

    With kind regards,

    • barry
      July 16, 2020 / 5:52 pm

      I have made these in the past myself and used salt codfish after soaking and boiling. I didn’t do the blender thing, I mashed them up, but I’m gonna do that next time

    • Gem
      October 27, 2020 / 7:26 am

      Greetings! In Bermuda we make these with pre-soaked salted cod and we add potatoes to the mixture. We eat them traditionally on Good Friday along with hot cross buns. Yummmmm…..

  4. Oliver
    January 27, 2016 / 9:48 pm

    I just turned out my best batch yet. I didn’t have a hot chili, so I substituted cayenne and about half of an orange bell pepper. I also substituted fresh cilantro instead of parsley, and I gratuitously added cumin and smoked paprika. Awesome!

  5. Oliver
    January 27, 2016 / 9:37 pm

    You have made a fish ball frier out of me. Thanks so much for this. I want to offer the feedback though that you might want to prepare people for a wide variability the cooking time they’re liable to experience, particularly since I didn’t notice you specifying what size to make the balls. Mine take forever (15′? maybe more). Besides size, I think my time is longer because I have a cheap and wimpy dedicated frier, which isn’t fast at getting the oil back up to temperature after I drop the balls in. Also I sometimes use fish that is only recently defrosted, which means the balls can be quite cold. I also keep my Parmesan in the freezer, which I don’t suppose a lot of people do, unless like me they buy the big bags of it at Costco. Anyway, it’s not just about being patient. I have to cook them past golden brown to cook them to the inside, with my variables as they are, and if I hadn’t started making them smaller, I can imagine not being able to cook them through without overcooking the exterior. They’re more appetizing to look at golden brown too. That said, I’m a big fan and indebted to you for this recipe.

  6. michelle knight
    May 13, 2014 / 12:23 am

    Hi just signed on to your website! Everything looks so good! Thank you for this site.Alot of westindian/american people like myself have been looking for something like this.I will definitely be sharing.

  7. Petrona
    April 19, 2014 / 9:39 am

    Can I bake the fish balls

  8. Frances
    September 14, 2013 / 8:35 am

    Used 2 birds-eye chillies instead of scotch bonnet (I couldn’t get scotch bonnet in my local shop) – very easy recipe to follow and beautiful results.
    Thanks for sharing this!

  9. Danielle
    February 25, 2013 / 1:48 pm

    Would this work baked?

  10. Mervene
    February 10, 2013 / 7:39 pm

    For all the years my mom made these to eat with fried bake we call it accra love them the thyme give it such a great flavor . She also made meat balls using canned corn beef in gravy and spread over rice dont forget some type of beans on the side yuuuuuummmy

  11. Bel_timadanm
    January 24, 2013 / 5:18 pm

    Can I use a blender instead of a food processor ?

  12. Bel_timadanm
    January 24, 2013 / 5:17 pm

    Can I use a blender? I

  13. BahamaMama
    December 19, 2012 / 6:53 am

    These look yummy! I"ve tried several of your recipes already and they have not failed; can't wait to try this one!

  14. tisure
    December 13, 2012 / 8:32 pm

    fish cakes

  15. Ingrid
    November 18, 2012 / 8:57 pm

    Thank you again Chris.. I can always find exactly what I am looking for on your site

  16. seawoman
    November 17, 2012 / 11:30 pm

    Interesting interpretation but will NOT be authentic with anything but salted cod fish,

    The other thing is in Barbados we call then FISH CAKES not FISH BALLS. Haven't tried yours, Chris but sorry to tell you, you can't touch my Grandmother's or my Mom's or a good few others that have made fishcakes an art. If you've seen how beautifully made our fishcakes are made in a traditional coal pot and served with [ scotch bonnet] pepper sauce (I won't mention the word 'authentic' again), you'd think you died and went to heaven.

    We in Barbados are very passionate about our fishcakes!

    For party food, having the perfectly formed balls is fine but again, the REAL way, isn't so perfectly formed and somehow, much better.

    While I can appreciate experimenting/substituting, I think any review of traditional food like this, must given a respectful nod to its origins.

    • jumbieg
      November 18, 2012 / 6:09 am

      what you're speaking about I know as being accras or fish cakes, which I did about a year or so ago on the website. BTW did you know that several cultures around the world have a version of this recipe?

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

      • seawoman
        November 18, 2012 / 8:08 am

        That's true. For example, in Martinique, they're known as l'accra en morue.

  17. Abigail
    November 16, 2012 / 8:44 pm

    what other fresh fish can you recommend for this recipe Chris?

    • jumbieg
      November 17, 2012 / 5:25 am

      something like a white sea bass or any mild tasting fish will work

  18. JC
    November 15, 2012 / 4:31 am

    Delicious! Reminds me of Accras de Morue from the French Antilles;-)

  19. robert
    November 10, 2012 / 4:27 pm

    i make something similar but start with salt fish… do you recommend the fresh because it processes smoother or do you prefer the flavor?

  20. Maurini
    November 10, 2012 / 3:10 pm

    Reminiscent of my grandfather's fish cakes recipe – except he used potato instead of bread crumbs. I'll definitely give this a try!

  21. Robert
    November 10, 2012 / 12:44 pm

    i make something similar but start with salt fish… do you recommend the fresh because it processes smoother, or because of the taste?

  22. michele
    November 9, 2012 / 3:17 am

    Love these to serve as appetizers.

  23. tulani
    November 8, 2012 / 3:50 pm

    Please say I can use tilapia for these?

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