While they are not a staple of American diets, fish balls are a common snack across China, and one manufacturer of the food has opened a museum devoted singularly to educating visitors about the history and ecology surrounding the beloved treat.
Traditionally fish balls are made of a fish paste mixed together with vegetables and spice which is then rolled into a ball and steamed or fried. The origins of the popular junk food can be traced back to overabundant fish catches that left fishermen with a bunch of meat they didn’t know what to do with, eventually grinding it all up and using the paste to create things like fish balls and fish crisps.
The Teng feng Fish Ball company was started back in 1940 when a couple of war buddies began producing fish crisps around the same time that plastic bag technology was beginning to hit its stride, allowing their product to take advantage of the sealed containers. From there they began to expand into fish balls and are now a successful producer of fish paste products. Deciding to give back to the industry that brought them such success, the Tengfeng Fish Ball Museum was opened.
Today the museum features displays on the production and environmental impact of creating their products, leading visitors through the various species of fish that contribute to their fish balls. There are also a number of pieces of production equipment on display as well as the opportunity to roll your own balls by hand.