Fish 7: Fish Balls (魚圓)

Use either a live redfin culter or black carp, split the fish in half, and nail it to a board. Use a knife and scrap off the meat, leaving the bones and spine on the board. Chop the meat until fine, mix with lard and bean starch,1 then stir the mixture with one’s hand. Add a little salt water, but do not use light soy sauce. Add green onion and ginger juice, and form the mixture into balls. When this is done, place them in boiling water to cook. Scoop them out when done, and let them rest in a bath of cold water.2 When they are ready to be served, boil them with chicken broth and laver.3


1 I’m still wondering if “豆粉” (doufen) is bean starch or bean vermicelli, since both can be used in fish balls. The ambiguity stems from the fact that 粉 (fen) can either be used to mean starch, or one of the many Chinese pasta products made from starch. I’m going with the former since it’s a more common ingredient when making fish balls.

2 This is a very accurate and detailed description of the fish-ball-making process. Definitely one of the better recipes noted-down by Yuan Mei.

3 The laver described here is a type of red algae likely from Genus Porphyra

Pork 7: Tenderloin (豬里肉)


To me, pork tenderloin is analogous to chicken breast, a mediocre yet rather pricy cut of meat. While it’s certainly not bad, neither is it remarkable. It’s just another homogenous blob of meat.(Credit: Julo)

Pork(List of the Ceremonial Animal)::Tenderloin

Pork tenderloin is fine textured and very tender. However, most people do not know how to prepare it. I had a tenderloin at Yangzhou Prefect Xie Yunshan’s banquet that was delicious. [1] The meat was sliced, coated in starch, [2] then simmered in shrimp broth with shitake and laver. It must then be immediately removed from heat when cooked.[3]

Random notes:
[1]: Gan (甘) is one of those Chinese words that is a bit difficult to translate into English. Although its most straightforward translation would be the word sweet, it is usually used to describe a pleasant taste that is not overtly sour, bitter, or salty, but also not quite “sweet”. In Taiwan, the word is used extensively for describing the more “elusive” tastes, for instance, the pleasant taste of emulsified fats such as mayonnaise and creams, or that pleasant aftertaste one gets from eating things like bittermelon. For tenderloin cooked in shrimp broth, shitake, and laver, gan is most likely used for referring to their umami tastes (鮮) or at least the taste’s more delicate aspects. To convey the standard sweet sense of taste meant by native English speakers (sweet like sugar), the word tian (甜) is used instead.

[2]: This technique is called “velveting” by some. When you have the choice, use either potato, arrowroot, or sweet potato starch. Corn starch performs poorly for this purpose.

[3]: I was thinking that this was served as a soup but truth be told, but it could just as well be just the tenderloin slices. You decide.