Fish, what? That was Tashi’s reaction when my brother – on one of their ’strolling Manila’ moments – asked him if he wanted to try fishballs. Per my brother’s observation, Tashi was a little hesitant on trying it (he later on told us he thought my brother was referring to the fish’s balls and since he never knew fish had balls he’d rather not give it a try!). Hence, to clarify and make it simpler, fishballs are just the fish version of meatballs.
Made of fish meat and flour and looks flat when raw, fishballs are popular ’streetfood’ in the Philippines. The balls are sold by street vendors and usually available in the afternoon. They are cooked on the spot and served skewered. If the vendor has a permanent selling spot, fishballs are sold together with banana and kamote (sweet potato) que. These are not BBQ with bananas nor sweet potatoes, these are fried bananas and potatoes sold skewered as well, thus the name banana and kamote que. If the vendor doesn’t have a permanent selling spot, most of the time he uses a push cart to cook and sell fishballs.
There are three types of sauces that goes with the fishballs. The first and most common one is the plain sauce, combination of vinegar and soysauce with onions and garlic. The second one is the sweet sauce, actually almost the same as the chili sauce used for eggrolls. The last and probably the most popular, especially among adults, is the hot sauce, this is just the sweet variety but loaded with siling labuyo (cayenne).
Cheap and easy to prepare, they are almost always served in every informal gatherings. My brother and his friends, whenever they hang out together – indoor or outdoor, fish balls are always a part of their afternoon delight.
Truly one of the food I miss, I was happy to know that the Chinese store where I normally get my asian goodies, offers milk fishballs imported from Thailand. They taste good but would have been better if served with my favorite Philippine made sweet sauce.