fishball cabbage soup

Chinese New Year is approaching. It has become more or less a custom for every Chinese New Year that we will have the white cabbage (some call chinese cabbage) soup for new year’s eve. Sometimes, we will use this soup as the soup for our steamboat feast. The use of white cabbage lends the soup a natural sweet taste, which can be quite tasty especially for the little kids.

You can use fish balls or meat balls. In this recipe, I actually use both fish balls and minced pork (rolled into balls). The basic stock for this soup is ikan bilis stock . You can use any bony meat (including chicken parts) to make the stock. Just prepare and boil the stock for 30 minutes to an hour. If you don’t have time to boil stock (I dislike the use of instant stock granules and prefer boiling the stock fresh), you can do without it but the soup might not be as flavourful. In that case, you might need to adjust the taste of the soup with an appropriate amount of seasoning.

This is the recipe for White Cabbage Fish Balls Soup




  • 4 to 8 leaves of white cabbage (cut into 2 inches cross wise)
  • 10 to 15 fish balls
  • 100 grammes of minced pork (choose and use pork which comes with a little bit of fat. Marinate with a little light soya sauce and white pepper powder)
  • a small handful of ikan bilis (choose bigger sized ikan bilis or those suitable for stock)
  • 1 litre water




  • 2 teaspoons light soya sauce
  • Salt and white pepper powder to taste



Bring water to boil and add ikan bilis. Boil in medium heat for 30 minutes. Remove ikan bilis.

Bring stock to boil again and add minced pork balls (rolled into same size as fish balls) and fish balls. Once the balls are beginning to float, add white cabbage.

Boil till cabbage turns limp and all the minced pork balls and fish balls have floated to surface. Add seasoning to taste.

Dish up and serve hot.

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  1. 1
    The Cooking Ninja
    January 10th, 2008 at 1:52 am

    I love this soup. My mom makes this all the time. I miss it so much. We don’t have china cabbage here. 🙁

  2. 2
    January 10th, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Every CNY, we have such a soup on our table too. Must have fish balls, and cabbage. Sometimes, my mom adds in fish maw.

  3. 3
    January 11th, 2008 at 10:44 am

    Cooking Ninja : Really? I thought it should be commonly available. Perhaps not where you are. I used it quite a lot when I was studying in the UK.

    Tigerfish : Oh yes, fish maw is excellent with this soup. Abalone too 😉

  4. 4
    Rasa Malaysia
    January 12th, 2008 at 3:05 am

    I love this soup! I need to make this…but the problem is I cannot get the kind of fish balls we get in Malaysia here. 🙁

  5. 5
    January 13th, 2008 at 3:57 am

    Can anyone tell me what is galangal? What is galangal in English? Thank you.

  6. 6
    January 13th, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    hello! i found ur blog while googling for red bean soup recipe :D:D,am making it now actually..then i saw this recipe, omg ur a lifesaver!

    im currently in ukraine and during the winter months we hardly have any vege (except for cabbage & chinese cabbage in abundance) so after seeing this recipe im very excited to try it. only thing is i’ll probably have to do without the fish balls, and make the meatballs on my own.nevertheless, thanks alot!

  7. 7
    January 14th, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Rasa Malaysia : Yes, I think it’s almost impossible to get this kind of fishballs over in California. They don’t sell ikan parang, do they? 😉

    Amy : Galangal is actually the english name for Lengkuas (malay). Hokkiens call it “lam kiu” which is loosely transliterated to “blue ginger”.

    Ivy : This soup also tastes good with meatballs. Or you can try using chicken drumsticks instead. Cook chicken drumstick stock and add chinese white cabbage to it. You might also want to consider adding carrots and button mushrooms for added flavour. Lovely!

  8. 9
    Natto Mama
    June 15th, 2010 at 11:28 am

    stumbled across this wonderful blog and yes, you saved the day!

    As a stay at home mum, I have to crack my brains to prepare lunch and dinner with varieties for my 2 year old and hubsand.

    This blog has all the comfort food and i’ve tried a few recipies. All works well! Thumbs up!

  9. 10
    June 15th, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Natto Mama : Thank you for your feedback. I’m glad this blog is of help to you.


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