Sunday, 24 June 2012

Recipe - Singapore Fish Head Curry

The burst of flavours from the variety of spices that go into making the Singapore fish head curry will jolt the taste buds like no other recipes can match. The list of spices alone can bewilder anyone. Turmeric, chilli, coriander, aniseed (or star anise), cumin seeds, fenugreek, pepper, cloves, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, cardamom and cinnamon make up this list.

If you add other condiments that accompany the spices, the mind boggles. Other condiments include garlic, ginger or galangal, onions, candle nuts, lemon grass and curry leaves.

I use salmon fish head for practical reason. At $6.90 a kg, it is about half the price of the snapper head. It is quite a big head, weighing 800 grams. The salmon head goes very well with the curry.
salmon head in 2 halves

For the curry, I was able to buy the fresh fish curry paste from the market. For 50 cents, the lady gave me 1 tsp of turmeric paste, 1 tsp of ginger paste, 2 tsp of chilli paste, 2 tsp of coriander paste, 1 tsp of garlic paste and 1 tsp of mixed spice paste.

Fresh curry paste have a much stronger flavour. But if you are not able to get it fresh, fish curry powder in packet form (picture on right) is available and 2 tbs would be enough for 1 big fish head. There is also fish curry paste available in packet form.

But if you do like to make your own curry paste the good old fashion way of using mortar and pestle, I recommend this one by Carole (Link). For cooking fish curry, I would add a knob of fresh turmeric to her already long list of spices.

baba's fish curry powder
Curry paste (as above)

Additional ingredients:
1 large onion, finely chopped,
knob of ginger, peel and chopped
1 stalk of lemon grass, cut into 1 inch and crushed
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbs of salt
2 green chili padi
1 tsp of tamarind paste, mixed in half cup of water
curry paste and 40 ml of coconut milk
2 sprigs of curry leaves
60 ml of coconut milk
1 lime for garnishing
1 sprig of fresh coriander for garnishing

2 tbs of oil

1 tomato, cut into slices
1 eggplant, cut into bite size
5 okra, cut into bite size

A tbs of prawn paste can be added to give extra taste and flavour.
The wok or pan must be big enough to hold the fish head which is quite big.
My wok is 45 cm and can hold only one big fish head.

In a wok or pan heat the oil in medium heat till hot
Toss in the onion, ginger and garlic and fry till fragrant.
Add the curry paste, lemon grass, curry leaves and chilli and stir fry until fragrant.
Add tamarind juice and salt.
Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.
Add the coconut milk

At this stage, check the taste of the curry gravy. Add more salt if necessary.
Check also that the gravy can cover the fish head.

Add the vegetables and bring to a boil.
Finally add in the fish head, bring the mixture to a boil.
Cover the wok or the pan, turn the heat to medium low and let the fish simmer in the gravy.
This let the fish head absorbs the flavour of the curry and in turn, the bones of the fish will sweeten the curry.

Cooking time is about 10 minutes.

As a guide, the cooking time for 500 grams of fish is 8 minutes. Add 1 extra minute for every 100 grams extra of fish.

Dish out and serve with garnish.

This 4 minute video shows how to make your own curry paste

The most popular fiish head curry restaurant in Singapore is Muthu's Curry at Race Course Road. Some tips on cooking the fish head curry are given in this 3 minute video.

3 minute video on how to eat Singapore fish head curry.

Mark Weins cooks Southern Thai Fish Curry.

1 comment:

  1. Great that you linked in, thanks.
    Have a super week