Quick and easy Chinese fish ball noodle soup
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Quick and easy Chinese fish ball noodle soup

1 hour
to prepare homemade seafood stock if none on hand

Susan says

I eat a lot of fresh shrimp so it's rare that I don't have shrimp stock in my freezer. After peeling the shrimp, store the shells and heads in an airtight container in the freezer. When you have a sufficient amount, put them in a pot, add enough water to cover, bring to the boil then lower the heat and cook at a low simmer for an hour. Strain the ingredients through a colander placed over a bowl. Cool the stock and cool to room temperature, then put it into containers and freeze.

If you don't have any shrimp stock in your freezer, substitute instant dashi stock, made with dashi bags (they look like tea bags, and can be found at shops selling Japanese products). Soak two dashi bags in 600ml hot water, then remove the bags and use the liquid.

I know you can get this dish at any number of Hong Kong-style noodle shops, but I also like to eat it in the comfort of my own home. It's easy enough to make because you can buy the fish balls, seafood balls and fish paste (usually made of carp) from Chinese grocery shops. I also like to add fresh shrimp to the noodles - just remember, after peeling them, to freeze the heads and shells for your next batch of stock.

After boiling the shrimp roe noodles, the cooking water will have a lot of flavour. Instead of pouring it down the drain, add the liquid to the shrimp stock. You should also boil all the fishballs, seafood balls and the fresh shrimp in the stock, so by the time you ladle the broth over the noodles, it is so flavourful you might not need to add any salt.

4 bundles (60g/2oz each)
shrimp roe noodles (I prefer the wide ones)
600g (21oz)
shrimp stock, thawed if frozen
200g (7oz)
fresh fish paste
10g (⅓oz)
fresh coriander
finely ground white pepper
4 each of three types
fishballs (or fish cake) and/or seafood balls, defrosted, if frozen
12-16, with bodies about 8cm (3¼in) long
fresh shrimp
spring onions
Chinese yellow chives
a handful
bean sprouts
fine sea salt, to taste
coriander leaves for serving
chilli oil (optional)

Roughly chop 10g (⅓oz) of fresh coriander and mix it and the ground white pepper with the fish paste. Peel the shrimp. Cut the spring onions into 5mm (¼ in) pieces, and the yellow chives into 3cm (1¼in) lengths.


Bring a medium-sized pot of water to the boil, add the shrimp roe noodles and boil until al dente. Put a colander over a large bowl and drain the noodles, reserving the cooking liquid. Divide the noodles between four large soup noodle bowls. 


Pour a litre (1 quart) of the noodle cooking liquid into a saucepan and add the shrimp stock.


Bring the noodle cooking liquid and shrimp stock to a simmer. Add the fishballs, fish cake and seafood balls and cook until they float to the surface, then place one of each kind on top of the noodles.


Use small spoons to scoop the fish paste into 12 oval balls directly into the simmering broth and cook until they float to the surface. Distribute them between the soup noodle bowls. Add the peeled shrimp to the broth and simmer until they curl and turn pink and opaque. Divide them over each portion.


Taste the broth for seasoning and if needed, add some salt.


Add the bean sprouts and yellow chives to the simmering broth and cook for 30 seconds. Ladle the broth, bean sprouts and yellow chives over the noodles and other ingredients in the bowls. Add some coriander leaves and serve immediately, letting each diner add chilli oil, if they want it.


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