Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Asian Recipes : Fish Head Curry(Kari Kepala Ikan)

Kari Kepala Ikan (Fish Head Curry)

 Kari Kepala Ikan (Fish Head Curry)

Fish head curry has its' own cult following in Malaysia - there are restaurants solely dedicated to fish head curries, probably not surprising as most fish aficianados say the cheeks of the fish are the most succulent and best parts for eating.  At first glance though, fish head curry may look daunting to the uninitiated -

Today's recipe is extremely easy - you can make an authentic and delicious curry dish with store-bought curry paste as long as you add some touches of your own.  If you are going for the fish head, do get your fishmonger to chop the heads up to make your prepping and cooking easier.  I used garoupa head  as garoupa does not have a strong fishy taste which is a real turn-off in fish head curries.  That is why we prefer to cook our own as the freshness of the fish is guaranteed.  If fish head sounds too exotic for you, feel free to substitute with fish fillets.  The fish pieces are first deep-fried before cooking in the curry to ensure the fish does not fall apart and turn into mush.  If you like fish and curries, do give this a try!

For my Malaysian curries, I prefer curry pastes Adabi,Faiza and 'O'.  They have a great selection of curry pastes that so far tastes the best to me.  I added tomato,lady's finger and green chili essentially making my curries easy one-dish meals. 


1 garoupa fish head, chopped up
6 small shallots

4 small garlic
half a handful of fresh curry leaves
Mixed Fenugreek(is essentially mixed spices made of fennel, fenugreek, black mustard, and cumin seeds)easily obtainable at your local grocery store.
half a litre of tamarind juice(made by dissolving tamarind paste in warm water)
half a litre of coconut milk
two large tomatoes cut into eight pieces each
a handful of string beans or lady's finger
1 packet Adabi or Faiza fish or seafood curry paste (if you are using another brand, select the ones that say fish or seafood as meat curry paste tastes slightly different)
Enough water
Enough cooking oil for saute

1.Remove the gills from the heads if your fishmonger hasn't done it for you,wash them well.
2.Peel shallots and garlics,ground them into homogeneocedus paste

3.Warm a deep cast-iron pot and put in cooking oil for saute with Mixed Fenugreek
4.Add fish curry powder (can be made from ground jeera, coriander seeds, fenugreek and red pepper)
 5.Fry ever so gently, making sure the flavours go into the cooking oil
 Turn to medium-low heat and stir-fry the curry paste mixture until you can see the oil separating from the paste. 
6.Add half a litre of tamarind juice
7.Add half a litre coconut milk
8. Do a taste test.  Add a small splash of light soy sauce from the edge of your wok if not salty enough.
 9.Add tomatoes and string beans or lady's finger
10. Simmer until ready and serve with steamed rice , 'sambal belacan' and 'ulam'.

 Sambal Belacan
sambal belacan

Ulam is fresh raw herbs to be eaten with sambal belacan

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