Sunday, October 15, 2017

Burmese Fish Ball Sipyan

Burmese Fish Ball Sipyan
Fish balls remind me of the time a group of co-workers and I went to lunch at a Chinese restaurant and I ordered fish ball and watercress soup. A Chinese lady and I were the only ones who had ever heard of fish balls, so it was the source of much amusement and glee for our meat-and-potatoes comrades. 

Fish balls can be made at home, but are readily available in Asian markets here in North America. When made from scratch, all the tastes that make them uniquely Burmese can be added to the fish mixture so that the flavors permeate from the inside out. Using generic fish balls from the market requires that they be simmered long and slow and, for this, the sipyan method works best. 'Sipyan' translates to 'oil returns' which requires a simmering process on medium-low heat that evaporates the liquid until all the oil rises to the surface.

1 pkg. (about 12) fish balls
1 russet or baking potato, peeled and cut in chunks
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 large onion, quartered, blanched, drained & blended (reserve poaching liquid for gravy)
1 tsp. ginger paste
1 Tbsp. garlic paste
1 large beefsteak tomato, diced
½ tsp. Kashmiri mirch or paprika (add chili powder for more heat)
¼ tsp. turmeric powder
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
½ tsp. shrimp paste (ngapi)
1 cup chicken broth or water
½ cup cilantro (coriander leaves), minced
2-3 green chilies, sliced

1.   Peel, quarter and blanch onion, drain and reserve poaching liquid.
2.   Blend blanched onions and tomatoes to a paste and set aside.
3.   Cut each fish ball in half.
4.   Place onion paste, poaching liquid and all ingredients except garnishes in a saucepan.
5.   Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium-low and simmer for half an hour until oil floats to the surface.
6.   Adjust salt to taste using fish sauce, stir and remove from heat.
7.   Garnish with green chilies and cilantro.
Serve with hot rice as a main dish.

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