MALAYSIAN CURRY FISH HEAD

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MALAYSIAN CURRY FISH HEAD
*Gulai Kelapa Ikan ~ Serves 4

Country of origin: Malaysia

Curry fish head is still a very popular dish today among most Malaysians and Singaporeans. From South Indian origins, various ethnic groups of the Malay Peninsula have added their own touch to this exotic dish. Truly, this is another sensational spicy hot curry dish that will relish your palate…

INGREDIENTS
1.5 kg large fish head (choose a large white fish like snapper or grouper)
100g tamarind concentrate or 2 tbsp tamarind purée
2 tbsp peanut or Olive oil
1 cup loosely packed curry leaves 
250g okra – stalks trimmed
½ whole pineapple – peeled, cored, cut into 2 cm cubes 
2 red tomatoes – cored and quartered
1 capsicum – cored and quartered or smaller
4-5 fried tow-foo – halves
2-3 egg plants – cut into lengthwise strips
1-2 stalk lemon grass – bruised, cut into 12 cm length
3-4 kaffir lime leaves
200ml coconut cream
1 tsp caster sugar
1 lime – halved


FISH CURRY POWDER
1½ tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1-2 tsp hot chilli powder
1-2 tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp white pepper


REMPAH (Spice Paste)
3 large onions – chopped into chunks
3 garlic cloves – chopped finely 
1 fresh turmeric - grated finely 
1 stalk lemon grass – finely chopped using processor
5 red bird's-eye hot chillies – split lengthwise, seeded
1 tbsp grated ginger
1-2 tbsp galangal grated
1 tbsp shrimp paste (belachan) or 2 tbsp fish sauce


METHOD
For the fish curry powder, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

REMPAH PASTE: process all the ingredients together in a food processor or blender to a smooth paste, adding a little water as necessary for the processor/blender to work. 

If using fish head, wash well to remove any traces of blood and pat dry. Rub fish head or fillets with 1 tbsp fish curry powder and set aside. Place tamarind in a heatproof bowl and pour over 500 ml hot water. Allow to steep for 15 minutes, then squeeze out and reserve liquid from tamarind. (If using tamarind purée without the seeds, just stir it through the water until dissolved.)

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wok and sear the fish head on both sides until browned, then remove and set aside. Add the rempah and remaining curry powder to the wok and fry for about 5 minutes until the oil separates from the paste, then stir through curry leaves.

Add okra to the wok and fry for 2 minutes, then add pineapple, eggplants, tomatoes, capsicums, tow-foo and kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass and cook for 3 minutes. Add coconut cream, tamarind liquid, ¼ tsp salt and sugar, and bring to the boil. 

Add fish head, cover with the sauce and add some water if there is not enough liquid. Bring to the boil again, then turn off heat and cover wok. Allow fish to stand, turning halfway, for 20 minutes to cook through, then squeeze over lime juice, stir gently so as not to break up the fish head.

Serve hot with steam rice, garnish with coriander and lime slices.


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