Thursday 3 March 2016

Assam Fish Head Curry 亚叁鱼头锅

This Assam Fish Head Curry Photograph Updated in February 2017

I super love Assam Fish Head Curry 亚叁鱼头锅 but they are rather costly in restaurants and coffee shops. I normally get only half a fish head for about S$20 in local coffee shops. This is one dish that we can enjoy significant cost savings by preparing at home. Best of all, we get to choose the type of fish and ingredients as well!

Ingredients (enough for 4 pax with steamed rice) :
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  • 1 whole fish head (cleaned and lightly scrubbed with a little salt)(we used Grouper 石斑鱼 for the tender fish meat. It is alright to use other types of fish)
  • 1 small sized packet of tamarind aka assam (available from market stalls or supermarket)
  • 1 packet of pre-made seafood curry fresh mix/paste  (available from wet market spice stalls. I bought at about S$1 for a portion.)
  • 2 mid-sized brinjal/eggplant (chopped into wedges) 
  • 6 to 8 pcs ladyfinger/ocra (trim top and end, then diagonally cut each ladyfinger into 3 parts)
  • 5 stalks of long beans (chopped to thumb size length)
  • 2 tomatoes (chopped into wedges)
  • 1 pc anchovies/ikan bills stock cube
  • 3.5 tbsp sugar (adjust in accordance to own taste preference)
  • cooking oil
  • 1 litre water (add or reduce water depending on size of fish head and pot)
  • chopped fresh pineapples (optional)
  • squeezed lime juice (1 to 2 pcs of green limes)(optional)

(tsp = teaspoon; tbsp = tablespoon)    

Tip : Do not cover lid while cooking so that vegetable ingredients would not be overcooked.

Method :

Remove tamarind/assam paste from wrapper.
Fill water in bowl. Dissolve assam paste in bowl of water with fingers or a spoon till water turns brown.
When assam paste is fully dissolved, sieve assam water to another bowl. Do not use the residues and seeds. Set aside assam water.
Here's how pre-made seafood curry mix looks like. Fresh from market and cost only a dollar. Very convenient.
Stir well with a spoon till spice mix is nicely blended. Set aside.
Heat 3 to 4 tbsp cooking oil in pot at medium heat.
Add pre-made spice mix into hot cooking oil.
Stir well and add 1/2 tbsp sugar. The sugar would enhance colour of the 'curry'. Give it a quick stir again.
Toss in long beans first as they take the longest to soften.
Add brinjal/eggplant wedges.
Toss in ladyfingers. Stir all ingredients till evenly coated with spice mix.
Scoop half portion of ingredients to a separate bowl and set aside. This is to make space for the fish head.
Fold in assam solution that was set aside earlier.
Carefully place fish head into pot. Meat facing up.
Add the rest of long beans, ladyfingers, brinjal/eggplants back into pot. Fish head meat should submerge in assam solution nicely. Allow it to simmer at medium heat for about 7 to 10 minutes (adjust timing in accordance to size of fish head). Do not cover with lid.
Flip fish head meat. Skin should be intact. Continue to simmer for another 3 to 5 minutes (depending on size of fish head). Do not cover with lid.
Add seasonings (anchovies/ikan bilis stock cube and sugar) when fish head is almost cooked. Stir gently with spoon or ladle. Do not damage fish meat in the process.
Add tomato wedges (and chopped pineapples or/and lime juice, if any) just before turning off the heat/fire. 
Turn off heat/fire and cover pot with lid for 2 to 3 minutes. 
Serve whilst hot. This pot of goodness goes best with plain steam rice.

Assam Fish Head Curry 亚叁鱼头锅 - it never fail to make us consume extra bowls of rice whenever served.



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