As I walked down the line of food stalls, occasionally jostled by
mischievous children and busy hawkers, I tried to decide what to take for
lunch. I had to hurry as I had urgent matters to attend to at the office. I
stopped at one of the stalls and glanced through the menu. The hawker served
a delectable array of dishes like wan-tan mee, laksa and my
favorite fishball noodles. "Uncle, a bowl of fishball noodles, please !"
After placing my order, I looked for a place to sit.
"Two dollars !" the
busy hawker muttered as he placed the bowl of fishball noodles in front of
"Not as delicious as Grandpa's," I grumbled to myself as I sank my teeth
into one of the fishballs. Fond memories of my grandfather, who sold
fishball noodles, came flooding back.
"Don't run about ! Come and watch Grandpa make fishballs." Grandpa would
call out to me. His was not an easy life -- a rigorous routine awaited a the
start of each day. I recalled how I was always awakened by the sound of
Grandpa's clock at 4 a.m. every morning as he got ready to buy fish from the
market. Grandpa was always particular about the type of fish he bought. He
would only buy herring fish and Japanese fish as their meat is
soft and hence, suitable for making fishballs.
Making fishballs started at 6 a.m. every morning. Grandpa would first
clean the fish by removing the head, bones and organs. I would often run
away complaining about the pungent smell of the fish organs and only return
after all the fish had been cleaned. Next, the cleaned fish were split into
two with a long, sharp knife, followed by the scraping of the meat from the
skin. "Not even a tiny bit of skin must remain or else the fishballs will
not be an ideal white," Grandpa would explain in a serious tone. The meat
was then slipped through a machine for softening before being shaped into
"Grandpa, when can I eat fishballs ?" I would often pester him as I could
not wait to gobble down a few.
"They have to be soaked for about three hours, dear, to dilute the salt
in the balls. This will make them firm and tasty," Grandpa would reply
patiently as I was his pet.
A quick glance at my watch jolted me to the present. "Oops ! 2 p.m !" I
said to myself. Realizing I was late, I grabbed my handbag and rushed off,
abandoning my cold, unfinished noodles.
Grandpa woke up at 4.00 a.m. each day to buy fish for making
fishballs. He bought only herring fish and Japanese fish as their meat is
soft and suitable for making fishballs. Upon returning from the fish market
at 6 a.m. he would clean the fish by removing the heads, bones and organs.
Next, he sliced the fish into two before scraping the meat from the skin to
ensure that the fishballs would have a white appearance. The meat was then
softened by a machine before being shaped into balls. Finally, Grandpa
soaked the fishballs in water for about three hours to dilute the salt in
them, thus making them firmer.
( 118 words )