Rumour has it that this is a dish which you can ONLY find in Singapore. Rather than having empirical proof, it is more by deduction that one comes to such a conclusion: One, Indians in India do not eat fishheads even though they are the ones who invented the ‘curry’. Two, the dish cannot be found in India and is readily available in Singapore.
Being such a busy person, my version is meant for other similar (pre-)occupied people. So if you are looking for the grandmother’s version, you will have to wait until I find the time to sit down and write that for you. To be honest, if you can save time and effort, this is the way to go, since it tastes pretty much the same.
I have NOT used a fishhead, because I still have not plucked up the courage to ask the fishmonger to wrap it up for me. However, he was selling these lovely fleshy collar bones of cod and I jumped at the opportunity! A giant cod collar bone for only 1.50 euros per piece!!! No self-respecting Belgian below the age of 40 knows the gastronomical value of this amount of meat, bones and skin!! Haha all the better.
You can use a head if you like, especially when you like to gorge the eyeballs out and chew them like I do, otherwise, you MAY use a thick (10cm or more) cross-section fillet of cod or salmon. Be warned, it is the bones that lend the extra flavour to the curry so you will definitely be missing out on the genuine taste of the fishhead curry.
For my curry paste, I got it from a Thai provision shop. If it says on the cover, ‘Indian’ or Masaman’ curry paste, it will work. However, do not go into an Indian shop in the UK for example, because the Indians there are mostly not from the deep south and the curry pastes taste extremely different. In Southeast Asia, the curry culture originated predominantly from the Dravidian culture in the southern India which relies heavily on ghee and coconut milk, so red curry pastes from Thai or Indonesian shops will work with a bit of tweaking.
- 1 humongous cod or salmon fishhead OR two collar bones
- 100ml curry paste
- 400ml coconut milk
- 250ml water
- 200ml vegetable oil
- 2 onions, loosely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, flattened
- 5cm ginger, flattened
- 5tbs tamarind paste
- 2tbs sugar
- 8-10 okra, heads removed and halved
- 4-5 tomatoes, cut into four
- 10 chilies
- 3tbs curry leaves
- Salt, to taste
- Garnish: coriander leaves
Serving: 2 persons
- Wash your fishhead well, and dry it well.
- Heat up a large pot on medium heat with oil, and fry the onions, garlic and ginger until soft. Then add in your curry paste and fry until the fragrance is out.
- Meanwhile mix your water, coconut milk and tamarind paste together. When the paste is ready, slowly stir the mixture in so as to ensure everything is well mixed. Bring to boil.
- Put in your fishhead, curry leaves, tomatoes, okras and chilies, turn the heat lower and cover to let it cook for about 25 minutes.
- When the fish is cooked, add in your sugar and salt. Serve on a large bowl, you may garnish with a sprig of coriander leaves if you like.
- This is mostly eaten with freshly-steamed white rice.