Hong Kong Curry Fish Balls

Close-up of curry fish balls and shu mai drizzled with chili oil in a bowl.

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Hong Kong Curry Fish Balls is a classic street food snack that boasts a delicious, spicy and fragrant curry sauce! Enjoy them on wooden skewers, in a bowl drizzled with plenty of chili oil, or over steamed rice or noodles!


  • 170 grams / 6 ounces (1 pack) Fried Fish Balls
  • 170 grams / 6 ounces (1 pack) Fish Balls (regular/non-fried)
  • 340 grams / 12 ounces frozen Fish Shu Mai
  • 2 TBLS Peanut Oil (or canola or vegetable oil)
  • 4 Asian Red Shallots (or ¼ medium red onion) – finely minced
  • 3 Garlic cloves – finely minced
  • 1 TBLS minced Ginger
  • 24 Thai Red Chilies (I used Bird’s Eye, but any hot red chilies will work), to taste – finely chopped
  • 3 TBLS Curry Powder (see notes*)
  • 500ml / 2 cups Chicken Broth
  • 65ml / 2.1 fluid ounces Coconut Cream
  • 1 TSP Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 TBLS Oyster Sauce
  • 1 TSP White Sugar
  • ¼ TSP Ground Cayenne (or chili powder), to taste
  • 1/8 TSP Black Pepper Powder
  • ¼ TSP ground White Pepper
  • 1 TBLS Corn Starch + ½ cup Water – mixed together make a slurry
  • To Serve: Pure Chinese Chili Oil (either with or without seeds/flakes), or chili paste


  1. Prepare the fresh ingredients: Place the fried and regular fish balls in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold water from the sink, then set aside. Prepare/chop the Asian red shallots, garlic, ginger, and Thai red chilies, as indicated in the ‘Ingredients’ section.
  2. Steam the shu mai: Set up an aluminum, stainless steel, or a wok and lid steamer (see notes)*. Steam the frozen shu mai according to package instructions – usually about 10 minutes steaming time.
  3. Sauté the aromatics: Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in a large wok or deep heavy bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the shallots and sauté for 3-5 minutes, until softened and just starting to brown. Add the garlic, ginger, and red chilies and sauté for 30-40 seconds until fragrant.
  4. Stir in the curry powder: Add the curry powder and sauté to combine for minute until fragrant.
  5. Build the sauce: Pour in the chicken broth and coconut cream, mix well to combine. Then add the low sodium light soy sauce, oyster sauce, white sugar, ground cayenne, black pepper powder, and ground white pepper. Stir well to combine.
  6. Add the fish balls and shu mai: Add the fish balls and stir until coated well in the sauce. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes (or 10-15 minutes if using frozen fish balls), until the fish balls have heated through and the curry sauce has slightly thickened. Then using tongs, add the steamed fish shu mai one by one, and stir to coat the sauce.
  7. Stir in the corn starch slurry: Mix the corn starch and water in a measuring cup until combined well. Then pour the slurry into the wok and stir to combine. Simmer for 1-2 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Then switch off the heat.
  8. To Serve: Divide the fish balls, shu mai, and sauce evenly into bowls. Serve with plenty of pure Chinese chili oil poured on top or chili paste if desired and enjoy! Alternatively, thread the fish balls and shu mai onto wooden skewers and enjoy them street food style!


  1. Fish balls: I used non-frozen fish balls, which can be found in packages in the fridge section of the supermarket. You can also use frozen fish balls without thawing first. They will be simmered long enough in the sauce to become tender again. Using fried or regular fish balls is a matter of preference. I’ve called for both in this recipe, which is a good way to try them out it’s your first time eating them. Then in the future you can use both types or whichever one you prefer more.
  2. Frozen Fish Shu Mai: These are small fish dumplings that can be found in the freezer section on an Asian supermarket. You can use additional fish balls and skip the shu mai if you wish, but they do taste fantastic with the curry sauce too!
  3. Curry Powder: I used a Hong Kong curry powder from the Koon Yick Wah Kee Factory brand. It’s made with chili powder, turmeric, star anise, Chinese cinnamon (cassia bark), dried parsley, ginger spice, Chinese prickly ash, and some other Chinese spices such as cao guo (Chinese black cardamom), yigui, and guhui. I highly recommend it as the flavor is sensational, and makes the curry sauce incredibly fragrant! If you don’t have access to this particular curry powder, substitute with another spicy curry powder such as Madras curry powder. The flavor of the sauce will be different, but it will still taste delicious.
  4. How to set up a steamer: See this post for how to set up a wok and lid steamer, a stainless steel steamer, or bamboo steamer.
  5. To serve as a meal: In addition to eating on skewers or in a bowl topped with chili oil, you can also serve the curry fish balls and shu mai as a meal over steamed rice or cooked noodles such as thick rice vermicelli.
  6. How long will it keep? After adding the shu mai to the sauce, it’s best to consume immediately on the same day or the shu mai wrappers will break down in the sauce and the fish meat will harden if stored in the fridge. Microwaving won’t necessarily make the shu mai tender again. However, if you add just the fish balls to the sauce, you can store for up 3-5 days in a sealed airtight container in the fridge. Reheat either in a pot on the stovetop over medium-high heat, or in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring once in between, until hot throughout. If not consuming everything immediately, I recommend steaming only the quantity of shu mai that will be consumed on the day of eating. You can steam more as needed in the days to follow and drizzle any warmed up leftover curry sauce on top instead.


Keywords: hong kong curry fish balls, curry fish balls, hong kong fish balls