My husband’s late grandmother taught me how to make this juicy hakka Oyster Ball recipe. I’m told that every family has its own version and this is ours. It’s the star dish in our family because you can’t find this anywhere else. When you take a bite of this Oyster Ball, you will first taste its savory and buttery-like soft fried meaty skin, before it bursts with the juices released from the oyster inside. I must warn you, this is quite addictive.
This is an auspicious Chinese New Year dish to the Hakka community because it’s called the Hoe Si Fatt Choy – “Hoe Si” means oyster, but it also sounds like good things to come, and “Fatt Choy” means black moss, and it sounds similar to “growing prosperous”. It is a wonderful dish to pair with freshly made rice and other typical chinese dishes like prawns, fish, soup and dessert.
We make the Hoe Si Fatt Choy only once a year because it does take a lot of work, but it is a favourite in our family and seeing the happy faces and satisfied smiles makes it all worth the while. I find that the grown ups like their oyster balls flavorful while the kids like to have their oyster balls less juicy because oysters tend to have a strong flavor. So in this recipe, I will show you how to make two types of oyster balls – one for kids, and the other for adults. Let’s get started, shall we?
- 300g minced (1pc) chicken breast
- 600g (1 box) fish paste
- 10 pieces of dried oyster
- 12 pieces of red dates
- 2 eggs
- 200g sengkuang (sweet turnip)
- 1 (fist full) fatt choy (black moss)
- 1 stalk of spring onions
- 1 – 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 3 small bowls of refined cooking oil
- 1 tbsp corn flour
- 1 small bowl of water (for corn flour)
- 4 cups of water
- 1 tbsp of thick black soy sauce (optional)
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Soak 10 pieces of dried oyster overnight in a bowl of purified water prior to making the oyster balls. Remove the water before the prep. To make Oyster Balls for grown ups: Cut the each oyster into 3 sections each. You should have 30 pieces in total. For the kid friendly version: just chop up the oysters into small pieces. Put the cut or chopped pieces into a bowl and set it aside.
- Deseed the red dates by using a small knife, slice down lengthwise into the date until you hit the pit. Pull open the date and remove pit. Keep the deseeded red dates in a small bowl.
- Finely chop 1 stalk of spring onions and put aside in a small bowl.
- Pick up the sengkuang next and finely chop that as well.
- Soak up 1 (fistful of) fatt choy (black moss) for 5 minutes in a bowl of water.
- Pick up the garlic cloves, remove the skin and give it a good chopping so that you have at least 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic.
- Add 1 tbsp corn flour into a small bowl of water. This would be used to thicken the Oyster Ball sauce.
- Crack the 2 eggs into a small bowl and beat the eggs, then set it aside.
Making the Oyster Ball
- In a big bowl, mix 600g fish paste and 300g minced chicken with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and 1 tbsp sesame oil until it is well blended. Mix with a silicone spatula spoon so that the mix is even.
- Add in the chopped spring onion stalk as you mix. Next, tear up the soaked fatt choy into small clumps and mix it in as well. Add 200g chopped sengkuang, mixing it as you go.
- Grown-up version: Take a fist full of the mix and shape it into oval shaped balls, making a hole in the middle so that you can put the oyster in, cover it up and continue rolling it into an oval shaped ball. Place the oval shaped ball into the bowl of eggs to give it a thorough egg wash, then take it out and place it on a tray. Continue making the oyster balls until you’ve used up all of the mix and oysters. You should have 30 oval shaped pieces in total.
- Kid friendly version: Add finely chopped oyster into the mix and continue mixing it. Once it is thoroughly mixed, scoop up a fist full of the mix and shape it into a round ball. This is to help you differentiate the grown up version from the kid friendly version. And just like the grown up version, give the round oyster balls a thorough egg wash, then take it out and place it on a tray. Continue making the oyster balls until you’ve used up all of the mix. Your total pieces may vary, especially if you’re making small oyster balls for the little ones.
Frying the Oyster Ball
- Prepare a wok and add 3 bowls of refined cooking oil into the wok. Let the oil heat up then add the oyster balls one by one to fry them. You can probably fry up to 8 or 10 balls at once. Once they have turned golden brown, scoop them up with a stainless steel skimmer and repeat the process until all the oyster balls are fried.
- Place the fried oyster balls on a flat plate that is lined with a paper napkin so that excess oil can be absorbed into the paper napkin and set aside.
Assembling the Oyster Ball Dish
- Prepare a pot on the stove. Heat up the stove and add a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of chopped garlic then fry them quickly.
- Next, pour in 4 cups of water and let it boil. Once the water has boiled, add in the deseeded red dates and the fried oyster balls, and boil for another 15 minutes until the oyster balls are soft.
- Add 1 tbsp of oyster sauce, and salt to taste. You can also choose to add in a 1 tbsp or a dollop of thick black soy sauce if you like for the extra colour.
- Slowly thicken the sauce with the bowl of cornflour water and let it boil for another 1 – 2 minutes, then turn off the fire.
- You can serve the oyster balls in a large serving bowl. Enjoy!
Traditionally, this dish is made with pork mince, fish and oysters for a full flavorful experience but you can also make it with chicken instead. I’m happy to share this rich, umami-laden recipe with you and hope you and your family enjoy it. If you need a quick recap on this recipe, just check out my video here:
Will you be trying this heritage recipe at home for Chinese New Year or that extra special occasion? Don’t forget to tag your pictures with #butterkicap and share your experience making this dish!