How Do Fish Balls Swim?

A day in Dan Shui. Dàn Shŭi lău jīe (Dan Shui Old Street).

Feast. A-Ge fish ball. Tofu vermicelli something. Iron eggs. Shrimp wonton.

A-Ge fish balls were a local delicacy in the Dan Shui area. They definitely were not the normal monstrosities found in the frozen food section of Ranch 99. Many times, I wondered about the legitimacy of “fresh” fish balls, since fish balls are inherently processed. The product was probably the result of maximizing profit margins, as to capitalize upon the usually discarded odds and ends of fish. Usually this involves the addition of some sort of binder to ground up fish, and transformed into a fabulously digestible product. Did this particular place make fish balls on site? I have no clue. It had to be made somewhere I presumed, and hopefully, the decreased distance of the coastline to DanShui conferred some sort of “fish ball 2.0,” new and improved, with all new freshness.

From outer space.

If it was any sort of indication, the fish balls had ground pork in the middle, which told me these suckers had undergone some customization (gettin’ fancy…). Perhaps they retained some buoyancy given the air-pocket in the middle. They were served in a hot, clear fish broth, with containers of salt water provided for seasoning. Salt water instead of salt shaker? Genius. A “liquid” form of seasoning keeps the proper state; no dissolving needed. Hilarious, insightful, and awesome.

"Salt water."

The tofu vermicelli oddities looked alot like square coconuts before they were cooked. I wasn’t quite sure what the white powder was on these things; I made a wildly educated guess and said that they were potato or tapioca starches. Thus, upon heating, the powders would gelatinize and form a transparent glossy sort of skin. That scientific process makes sense, but the outer layer still screamed “tofu.” Did they sprinkle tapioca starch and potato starch on the outside of a tofu skin? What would the point of that be? Preserve moisture content? Add flavor? Was it even starch? I should have asked.

Iron eggs. I’ve previously written a post on these nasties (they’re delicious though), how they’re salted, preserved, left to “die,” and subsequently dug up again, all nice and green to eat. Dr. Seuss would be proud.

The egg from hell.

My mother could make these better, and make them far more meaty. They’re essentially shrimps wrapped in a wonton skin and fried. Classic Chinese street eats. Wonderful with some sort of chili powder or sauce.

Freshly speared.

Cheers. Get your balls in order. Don’t forget to customize.