Friday, June 28, 2013

Sister Lisset's Shaker Fish Balls (Gluten Free)

About a week ago, I sat down and made a list of all the recipes I have to cook before I can wash my hands of the Northeast section of this cookbook and move on definitively to the South. It's a lot. Over 60 recipes, and I thought I was doing really well this year, knocking them out. So, focus, I said to myself. I started pawing through the fish section, which probably has the most uneaten recipes to find one, just one, that Bob, my shellfish allergic spouse, could actually eat. There are a couple. Gefilte fish is one, but complicated, and makes a lot, and I don't know what time of year one actually eats it. Shaker Fish Balls were another.
I stopped off at the fish counter at the Giant on Connecticut Avenue. I don't normally shop at Giant, except for the times I forget to bring lunch to my volunteer job at the Girl Scouts, but since I was working upstairs, it was worth a try. They had cod for a reasonable price. I bought a pound and a half, and made a dish called skillet chowder with half of it, and cooked the rest for the fish balls.
Now, there are a couple of things about this dish, caveats, so to speak. First, it says chop the fish in a wooden chopping bowl. My kitchen is pretty well equipped. I have a lot of stuff that even dedicated modern cooks may not have, but I don't have a wooden chopping bowl, or that curved tool that was used to chop fish, veggies, etc. in the old fashioned days. I always blow instructions such as this off and say use the food processor. Well, in this particular case, the food processor isn't what you want. It tends to make the fish and potatoes into a sort of fishy mashed potato of the wrong consistency. Too mushy. No way would this stuff form into balls. They were fish cakes.
Also, these are supposed to be deep fried. I do not possess a deep fryer. I shallow fried the nonballs in a regular frying pan in vegetable oil. This did not work real well. They stuck to the bottom of the pan.  On the up side, they were good. Bob liked them. He even liked the accompanying pork and milk gravy, which was okay, but limited in its palate range.

wooden chopping bowl and mezzaluna

So, I would advise, if you really want to do a good job with these, get yourself a wooden chopping bowl and a curved chopping tool to go with it. A few seconds of clicking on the Internet produces a source for these things. has a 9 inch wooden chopping bowl and a knife, which is called a mezzaluna for $46.50. If you want to compare sources, just google wooden chopping bowl and chopper.
The second caveat is, try to figure out some way to deep fry the fish balls. Maybe you could use a soup pot. Maybe, just maybe, you could bite the bullet and go out and buy a fry basket.  Lard is not readily available, but I have used vegetable shortening.
If you are interested in the origin of this recipe, it probably came from Hancock Shaker Village in my native Berkshire County, Massachusetts

Sister Lisset's Shaker Fish Balls

2 cups leftover cooked fish, bones removed with fish flaked
4 cups chopped cooked potatoes
2 egg yolks beaten
1 tablespoon minced parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
lard or fat for deep frying
salt pork and milk gravy (next recipe)

1. Put the fish in a wooden chopping bowl and add the potatoes. Chop together until very fine.
2. Add the egg yolks, parsley, salt and pepper. Form into balls the size of a goose egg. (Goose eggs are bigger than hens' eggs. Say, a little smaller than a baseball.) Deep fry until golden brown. Serve with gravy. Makes six servings.

No comments:

Post a Comment