Catch Of The Day!
When Nicholas, my brother, came to Melbourne for a visit last summer, Vanessa booked a deep sea fishing trip with St. Kilda Charters for him and Ray. The two boys set out at about 3.30am for their 4am trip and fished at the top end of Port Phillip Bay. They returned late morning the same day with their fresh catch of snappers.
The snappers took less than 10 minutes to cook and broke down before I could add the coconut milk I should have steamed them Hong Kong Style since they were so fresh but I guess the spicy glut in me took over good judgement.
The recipe below is of Chinese and South Indian roots rumoured to be concocted in Singapore during the 70′s – Singapore Fish Head Curry is another one of our local favourites!
1 Whole Snapper/Salmon Fish Head or 1 Fish Steak per person (wash well, make sure no traces of blood or curry will be bitter).
1 Whole Red Chilli, halved lengthwise and remove seeds.
2 whole Green Chillies, halved lengthwise and remove seeds.
1 Red Onions, halved and sliced into orange-like wedges.
3 Tomatoes, halved and sliced into orange-like wedges.
2 cloves garlic, sliced.
6-8 Ladies Fingers, halved (optional, if using, dry-fry without oil in pan for a few minutes so it will not be slimy for use later).
1 Purple Brinjal, cut thickly (optional).
Some canned pineapples cut into bite-size for Assam style only (optional) – do not use for coconut curry.
Fish Head Curry Recipe (use fish head or fish steaks, Assam style OR Curry with coconut milk style).
½ teaspoon Fenugreek Seeds.
½ teaspoon Black Mustard Seeds.
1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds.
1-2 Sprig Curry Leaves.
2 stalks Coriander Root only (use the leaves for garnishing).
Ingredients C (to be blended into paste):
20 Red Shallots or 3 Red Onions.
8 cloves of Garlic.
1 stalk Lemongrass, bottom white part only, sliced thinly.
Put these ingredients into an electric mixer and blend till fine. Add 1 tablespoon oil (from the ½ cup) if necessary to facilitate blending.
Ingredients D (mix Ingredients C and stir into a thick paste, add a little water if necessary):
100g Fish Curry Powder.
½ teaspoon Turmeric Powder, optional (if you like brighter curry colour).
1 tablespoon Chilli Powder, optional (if you buy good premixed powder like Earthern Pot Brand or A1 Instant Fish Curry, you don’t need this).
1 tablespoon Coriander Powder (if you buy good premixed powder like Earthern Pot Brand, you don’t need this).
3 tbsp Assam Paste (Tamarind), soaked in 200ml warm water. Sieve and discard Assam seeds and reserve the liquid.
½ – 2 cups Coconut Milk, optional (can substitute with Evaporated Milk) – If it’s Assam Fish Curry, I leave out the coconut milk completely. If it is Fish Head Curry, I use up to 500ml of coconut milk.
½ cup Oil
Salt to taste
1. Heat the oil, add Ingredients B. Once they crackle, add in the red and green chillies. Give a few quick stir and add the prepared curry paste (mixture of Ingredients C & D).
2. Keep stirring for about 5 minutes until oil oozes out of the paste over low heat. This step is very important. If you do not cook the paste properly, you may get “powdery” feel in your curry.
3. Next add assam juice and the rest of the water. Simmer over medium low heat for about 20 minutes.
4. Add in Ingredients A, 1 teaspoon salt and coconut milk at this stage if using. Simmer till fish is cooked about 15-30 minutes depending on size of fish head. Fish steaks takes shorter cooking time. (Note: If using a large fish head, you may want to put the vegetables a bit later so they are not overcooked or remove them when they are done and continue stewing the fish head till done.
5. Make final adjustment for seasoning like salt, sugar (I do not use sugar but some find the assam too sourish and need sugar to balance the taste) and water if you feel it’s too thick.
6. Dish out and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
7. Serve immediately with rice.
Please watch an interesting video link here if you’re a novice cook for fish head curry.