How to Spice Up Perch: A Recipe for Fish Meatballs with Salsa Verde

fishballs

Perch can be some of the best-eating fish you’ve ever had, especially when they’re caught and prepared in the same day. They were one of the first fish I learned to catch and fillet, and by the time I hit my teenage years, I was able to fill a 5-gallon bucket with perch, and fillet them all for the freezer in one morning.

I still like to hit up my favorite perch spots from time to time, just so I can keep a the freezer stocked with fillets. You can pretty much catch them year-round and they’ll bite on almost any bait. I remember one year when my dad and I went ice fishing, and he forgot to pick up bait. All we had was Oscar Meyer hot dogs handy, and we still managed to catch a limit of perch.

Most of my life I have been using my Grandmothers recipe for fried fish, with saltine crackers as breading. When served with Hellman’s Tartar sauce, it becomes a personal comfort food that I could eat anytime.

perch

That said, it’s fun to spice things up now and then. And I do that by making fish balls. They’re simply meatballs made with fish, and with a little looking, you can find them in almost every cuisine around the world. There are dozens of versions in Asian cook books, and it seems like every country in Europe has its own version. But it was this version from Mexico that caught my eye and has been my stomach’s obsession of late.

Albondigas De Pescado en Salsa Verde is a recipe from Margarita Carrillo Arronte in her book, Mexico: The Cookbook. I have been studying this book nonstop since I bought it. I love Mexican food and was pleasantly surprised at how much wild game was included in this book. I've always substituted venison and duck in my Mexican dishes, but there are several wild game and fish dishes in the book that I'm going to be testing. This recipe called for white fish fillets, and I just happen to have a bag of perch ready to go in the freezer. These little fish balls have a very light and delicate texture, but they're still packed with flavor. Served with white rice and a little hot sauce they were outstanding.

fish

INGREDIENTS
1 lbs perch fillets (or any other white meat fish)
1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
2 slices of bread
1/2 of a white onion
Handful of parsley
Handful of cilantro
2 eggs
3 gloves of garlic

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and combine into a paste. Using wet hands, form balls with the fish mixture and set on a plate. Chill the balls in the fridge for a couple of hours until you’re ready to cook.

SAUCE
2 cups salsa verde
2 cups fish stock (or vegetable stock if you don't have fish stock)
½ cup roasted sunflower seeds

Place the sunflower seeds, salsa verde, and stock in a blender and puree. Add the sauce to a deep pan and heat over medium heat until simmering. Add the fish balls and cook for 10 minutes until the balls are set. Season with salt and pepper and serve with rice.