Hayden Quinn’s Thai fish balls on a stick

The MasterChef Australia contestant shared his recipe for succulent fish balls with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. The original recipe calls for snapper, but any sustainable local white fish will do.

Serves: enough to share with 4–6

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Cooking time: 50 minutes


2 cm (3/4 inch) piece finely grated galangal
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 trimmed (white part) lemon grass stalk
2 finely chopped kaffir lime leaves
55g (1/4 cup) Thai red curry paste
1 lightly beaten free-range egg
600g pin-boned and skinned skinless sustainable white fish fillets
1 finely chopped red onion
50g trimmed and thinly sliced green beans
2 tablespoons finely chopped root of coriander
12 bamboo skewers
peanut oil
leaves of banana
lime wedge
250g roughly chopped red chillies
1 large deseeded and roughly chopped red capsicum pepper
375 ml (1 and 1/2 cups) white vinegar
440g (2 cups) caster sugar
2 cm piece of finely grated galangal
1 crushed garlic clove


Soak the bamboo skewers in water for 20 minutes before using. To make the sticky chilli dipping sauce, process the chillies and capsicum in a food processor until finely chopped. Place the remaining ingredients into a heavy-based saucepan over medium–high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30–40 minutes or until thickened. Cool completely before using.

Meanwhile, to make the fish balls, mix the galangal, garlic, lemongrass, lime leaves, curry paste, egg and snapper in a food processor until combined and the fish is coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl, add the onion, beans and coriander root and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Using your hands, mix until combined. Using damp hands roll 1 heaped tablespoon of mixture into a ball. Repeat with the remaining mixture.

Put three balls onto each skewer. Repeat with the remaining fish balls and skewers.

Heat a barbecue grill to high. Lightly oil the skewers and cook in batches, turning frequently, for 5 minutes or until browned and cooked through. Serve on banana leaves, with lime wedges and the dipping sauce on the side.


  • For skewers, the short ones are as you would find in Thailand. As a creative alternative, you can substitute the skewers for lemongrass sticks.
  • Store the sticky chilli dipping sauce in sterilised jars for up to 3 months.
  • Cook the fish balls without the skewers and add them to a green Thai curry base.

Recipe extract from Dish it Up by Hayden Quinn, published by Allen & Unwin.

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