February 1, 2011

Street Food! TEMPURA and FISH BALLS.

Tempura and Fish balls, the staple in Filipino street food.
Like all countries in the world, the Philippines also have their share of Street Food. Almost anything, from bread, barbecue, and down to tempura and fish balls.

Tempura, is actually a run-in from Japan. Its literal meaning is covering fish or vegetable in batter then frying it. And Fish balls was actually a food from China, handed down to Filipinos during the contemporary times and trade.

In the Philippines however, Tempura has almost the same recipe with the Fish balls.

Except that it is not round but more like of an oval with both tips pointing. Instead of filleting fish or shrimp then covering it in batter, the fish usually Pollock is flaked then mixed with flour, milk, spring onions and seasoned with salt and pepper. It is then added with ice water to make it firm and sticky quickly. Then formed into oval or flat round shapes, then deep fried until golden brown.

You may question why Filipino fish balls aren't exactly balls, but flat and round ones. The reason behind this is street vendors have to cook the fish balls quick enough not to frustrate customers who are waiting, so the ingenious idea of making it flat instead made it easier and a lot faster cooking them.

Fish balls have been a staple in the street food scene since old times and whenever you go to the streets in the Philippines, fish balls and tempura will also cross your mind. PINOYS love street food as much as any food in the country, it can be eaten and brought almost anywhere because it is skewered in bamboo sticks. For Php10.00, you can get three (3) pieces of tempura divided into bite size pieces OR ten to twelve fish balls. 

There are three types of dipping sauces the street vendor usually serve. These are the sweet and sour banana sauce, it is a mixture of vinegar, banana ketchup and sugar. Then the spicy sweet and sour banana sauce, that is similar with the previous one but with Hot Sauce. And the third one is the red onion and garlic vinegar sauce, which is usually added with chopped up chili. People who love spicy sauces, can first dip their tempura or fish ball skewer in to the spicy vinegar sauce and then to the spicy banana sauce. 

Most Filipino food isn't born or originated in the country but influenced by foreigners. Filipino hospitality and acceptance of foreign influences may be the culprit behind the vast and diverse Pinoy cuisine, but that's what the Philippines is all about. The Philippines is where worlds meet, from the west and to the east. Where culinary trades are done with different countries involved. Filipino culture is actually a cross between the east and the west, and to round it up in layman's terms the foreign influences made the country such a unique experience. 

For more information on PINOY! Fish balls, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_ball#Philippines

A recipe from our friends in Lutong Pinoy!

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Shala said...

How can you make this kind of tempura? Please let me know i want to learn.


can you send me a copy of recipes & procedures of cooking fish tempura?

buga2x said...

Dude, Pollack can only be found in northern waters (think Alaska, Norway and higher up on the globe). To be clear, we have none here in the Philippines unless imported which would make it very expensive to just turn into street food.
Fish balls are actually made from Tarpon (Buan-buan in Tagalog) a trash fish (too bony but unlike Bangus has little if any to offer in taste).

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