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Fish Head Curry Recipe ... My favourite - Spicy and Delicious !

Updated on December 16, 2015
Fish Head Curry
Fish Head Curry | Source

Fish Head Curry is a popular dish among Malaysians and Singaporeans. This South Indian dish was originally modified by a Singaporean chef to cater to the local customers’ taste. Chinese customers considered the fish head curry a specialty. Undoubtedly, I am a fish head curry lover too. Today, we can get a good variety of fish head curry. Not only the Indian, but Chinese, Malay and Peranakan or Nyonya serve their own variation of this recipe. The recipe below is closer to Indian version of fish head curry where more spices are added.

Generally, in this dish, the head of a red snapper (or Ikan Merah in Malay language) is semi-stewed in a Kerala style curry together with assorted vegetables such as okra (lady’s finger), brinjals, tomato and long bean. The gravy is thin and orange in colour. Tamarind or asam juice is often added to the spicy gravy so as to give it a sweet and sours taste.

Here is the recipe :


Part A

1 medium-sized red snapper (or threadfin) fish head

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp turmeric powder

Part B

6 tbsp cooking oil

1 tbsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp fenugreek seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 stalk curry leaves

2 stalk of lemon grass

1 onion

4 cloves whole garlic

Part C

2 tbsp turmeric powder

5 tbsp coriander powder

2 tbsp chilli powder

1-2 tbsp salt

200g tamarind (to be mixed with 1 cup of water and strained)

2 tomatoes

2 green chillies

2 cups water

Part D

3 lady’s finger

2 eggplants/brinjal

150 g long beans

250 g cabbage

10 pc of fried bean curd

250g grated coconut (or 1 cup of coconut milk)

Sugar (optional)

Fresh parsley (for garnishing)

Cut brinjal / eggplants
Cut brinjal / eggplants


Part A : Ingredients Preparation

1) Remove the scales of the fish head and wash the fish thoroughly. Then brush the fish with 1 tbsp of turmeric powder and 1 tbsp of salt (Part A Ingredients). Rinse it.

2) Place the grated coconut into a bowl and add 1 cup of water, and strain through a sieve to obtain the coconut milk

3) Wash and cut the eggplants/brinjal into finger size (about 4 cm length) as shown in photo on the right.

4) Cut across green chillies

5) Peel the garlic skin

6) Cut the peeled onion into fine slices

7) Cut the tomato into half

8) Cut the lady’s finger into half

9) Wash and smash the lemon grass with a meat mallet or a heavy knife

10) Mix tamarind with 1 cup of water and strain for the tamarind juice

Part B : Cooking the Fish

1) In a big and deep pot (enough to contain the fish head and the gravy), pour in 6 tbsp of oil and heat up the oil.

2) When the oil is hot, add Part B ingredients in the order given above. Fry the mixture until the onions are soft and fragrant.

3) Mix the ingredients in Part C in a bowl. Add this mixture in the pot and let the thin curry gravy boil. Then simmer it for 10 to 15 minutes with low heat.

4) If the gravy thickened, then add some water.

5) Add the cut vegetables and fried bean curd in Part D and the fish head.

6) Simmer for another 10 to 20 minutes.

7) Finally, when the fish is cooked, add the coconut milk and simmer for another 5 minutes.

8) Taste the gravy. If it is too spicy, add some sugar (starts with 1 tsp) according to your preferred taste.

9) Garnish the cooked curry with mint leaves before serving.

Consume it hot with steamed rice. Enjoy.

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The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are owned by Ingenira who hereby asserts her copyright on the material. Permission must be granted by the author in writing prior to copy or republish this article in print or online. However, please feel free to copy the first paragraph with a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Ingenira 2011


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    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 5 years ago

      thank you, praveenadevi. Nice to see you here.

    • praveenadevi profile image

      praveenadevi 5 years ago from Trivandrum, Kerala, India

      Woww...gud recipe..seems to be having some similarity with Indian (typically Kerala)fish curry...Anyway its so interesting and i m going to try this and will let you know the feedback..

      Happy New Year..!!

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 6 years ago

      thanks for your comment, d.william. Cut fish flesh can be used instead of the entire fish head in this recipe, if you don't like to have the fish looking at you. LOL...

    • d.william profile image

      d.william 6 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      Nice article and recipe. Sounds delicious, but way too much work for me. The pictures are quite appetizing, but I don't think i would like the fish looking at me while i am eating it. I will attempt the recipe, on a smaller scale, and without the head on the fish. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 6 years ago

      steamed fish head with okra.... I'd like to try that. Wondered if you have shared recipe at your site, I am going over to have a look now. :)

    • jtrader profile image

      jtrader 6 years ago

      I usually have fish head steamed, with okra. This sounds tasty.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 6 years ago

      I am so hungry now. Thank you for this recipe. God bless!

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 6 years ago

      Hoho... for me, I can eat it whole without rice ! LOL...

    • KenWu profile image

      KenWu 6 years ago from Malaysia

      That's my favorite. This dish make can make me eat extra two plate of rice!

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 6 years ago

      One curry fish head can be consumed by 3 to 4 persons. Thank you for being the first to comment again. :)

    • telltale profile image

      telltale 6 years ago

      Another good recipe... Not exactly my favorite, but cooked it before, but in a Chinese style manner (with a tinge of Indian spices, similar to your recipe). How many people is the recipe for? Nice Hub!