Monday, September 17, 2012

Herring Sandwich (serves 1-2)

I had two hot dog buns and a few herring left so I decided to make sandwiches.  This herring patties were inspired by my 92 y.o. Ah Ma (Teochew word for grandmother).  I spoke to her recently via Skype and she told me how she made her fish balls.  I have many fond memories of my grandmother both when I was living in Vietnam and each time I visited her as an adult.  Until recently she was still cooking.  When I was little I watched her make fish balls by hand, she bought whole fish from the local market, cleaned them, scraped the meat off and smashed it with the flat part of her cleaver and formed little balls and dropped them in simmering water until they float up. I was too lazy to make fish balls today so I decided to make a quick meal out of these. Since I was making patties I added black pepper and baking soda.  Ah Ma told me she made her fish balls using fish, egg white, a little salt, and a little garlic...and of course, there is no measurement!  Yet her fish balls tasted the same each time she made them--delicious!!  

Herring Sandwich (serves 1-2)


5 1/2 oz of ground herring
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 of 1 egg white
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp canola oil for frying
Fresh herbs (shiso, mint, fish mint) (optional)
Chipotle mayo
2 hot dog buns, toasted


1) Fillet the fish and scrape off a thin layer of meat with a knife until all the meat is gone (what you have will look like paste).
2) Chop the garlic and fish paste further, use the flat part of a cleaver or large knife and smash until the meat and garlic are smooth and form a fine paste
OR take the filleted fish, garlic and grind them in a food processor to form a paste.
3) Add baking soda, egg, salt and pepper to fish paste and mix well.
4) form 2 long patties a little larger than the size of your hot dog buns (the patties will shrink a little once cooked).
5) Heat a medium size pan with oil over medium high heat.
6) Place the patties in the pan, fry each side 4-5 minutes or until golden.
7) Turn the patties over and fry for 4-5 more minutes or until golden.
8) Toast the buns in a toaster oven.
9) Spread a small amount of mayo on the side of each bun, add herbs on the side of the bun and place the patty in the middle of the bun.
10) Add more mayo on top and sprinkle a little pepper on top.

I took this photo of my Ah Ma
when she was 90 years young
(Vietnam, 2010)
*Instead of fresh herbs you can use lettuce or mixed greens instead. If you do not have herring then you can substitute with another fish, shrimp or even meat such as turkey or chicken.  Growing up my mother often made patties for us using a combination of chicken and shrimp and they were delicious.
*My Ah Ma told me many interesting and amazing stories from her 92+ years of life experience.  As a child her feet were not bound because she grew up poor.  She told me the little wealthier girls had their feet bound so small that they looked like this and she held up her fist for me to see.  Her father was a member the opera.  He named my grandmother after a musical instrument.  When I visit my Ah Ma she sometimes watches the Teochew opera.  

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