Have you ever eaten a fish head? Maybe you’re thinking it’s disgusting to eat a such thing but it may also be the other way around. In most countries in Southeast Asia, eating pig heads and fish heads is widely popular and there are benefits to eating them.
There are benefits of eating fish heads both in our health and in the environment. Fish heads, with their bones, meat, and fat, have very high concentrations of various vitamins, minerals, and beneficial fatty acids. Consuming fish heads helps the environment in another way as well by lowering the amount of trash and pollution produced by fish processing plants.
Different countries have their own way and recipes of eating fish heads and for most Southeast Asian countries, using curry is the most common.
Curry Fish Head is said to be Singapore’s most iconic and ubiquitous local food delicacy. A fish head is braised in a soup base composed of coconut milk and flavored with a fragrant curry spice paste, tamarind juices, and spices to make a soupy meal. This recipe is all about big and unique tastes — it combines sour, salty, spicy, and savory in a way that works well together. As a result of its mouthwatering flavor, the dish is often consumed in one sitting, spoon after spoon of curry sauce being poured over pieces of soft fish and veggies.
When you plan to cook this food, take note of the following important steps.
- Fry curry spice paste
- Add liquids
- Add vegetables and the main star (fish head)
There are also considerations when it comes to the fish head to use in the dish. You may buy the following kinds:
- Sea Bream (ang go li)
- Red Snapper
- Crimson Snapper (ang sai/ang koi)
- Emperor Red Snapper (ang hu/ang koi)
- Golden Snapper/John’s Snapper (ang zho/ang zhor)
- Mangrove Red Snapper (ciak zho), and
- Russel’s Snapper (ang zho kee/ang zhor kee)
Because of their delicate and soft textures, these fishes are regarded to be among the best options for a curry. They don't break apart easily and have a quick absorption rate for the flavors of the curry.
Ready to cook this dish? Check out the ingredients and procedure below from marion’s kitchen.
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
- 2 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1/4 cup Malaysian curry powder
- 2 stalks of lemongrass, trimmed, bruised, and tied in a knot
- large handful of curry leaves
- 2 tbsp shaved palm sugar
- 1 tsp salt, or to taste
- 2 tbsp tamarind concentrate
- 1 small eggplant, trimmed and cut into chunks
- 1.2kg — 1.5kg fish head
- 10 okra, halved lengthways
- 3 Roma tomatoes, quartered
- ½ cup coconut milk
- steamed rice or roti, to serve
- 20 medium dried chilies
- 150g shallots, coarsely chopped
- 8 cloves of garlic, peeled
- piece of ginger, peeled, coarsely chopped
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- To make the spice paste, add the dried chiles to a small dish and cover with boiling water. Allow sitting for 30 minutes, or until softened. Drain well, squeezing off excess water with your hands. Keep the chili-soaking liquid aside.
- Chop the chilies into bits with scissors and add to the bowl of a food processor, followed by the shallots, garlic, ginger, and salt. Process with 2 tablespoons of the chili-soaking liquid until a coarse paste form (use extra liquid to help your blender along if you need to). Spoon into a small mixing dish, then stir in the turmeric. Place aside.
- In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes, or until the mustard seeds begin to pop.
- Cook, stirring constantly, for 6-7 minutes, or until the oil separates; the mixture should appear curdled and there should be traces of oil on the bottom of the pan. Stir in the curry powder, curry leaves, and lemongrass for 1-2 minutes, or until aromatic.
- Then add 2 and a half glasses of water, followed by the palm sugar, salt, and tamarind. Stir everything together, then bring to a simmer, then add the eggplant and fish head. Cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes, or until the eggplant is soft.
- Cook for another 10 minutes, or until the okra and tomatoes are soft and the fish head is cooked through. Heat until the curry sauce just begins to boil, then serve with steaming rice or roti.