There are not many dishes in Singapore that celebrate the coming together of Indian and Chinese cuisine. However, fish head curry is one such unique dish. A fish head is stewed in curry and often eaten with rice. Vegetables are added for extra texture and you can also enjoy this dish with bread. The curry used in fish head curry is usually a Kerala-style curry, which Singaporeans are familiar with.
Hailing from the land of spices
Kerala is a state in southern India. It is also known as the “Land of Spices” because of its long history of the spice trade. Kerala cuisine consists of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Proteins are often eaten with rice and spices such as chillies, curry leaves, mustard seeds, turmeric, and tamarind are frequently used.
Fish head curry is said to be created in Singapore by an Indian chef who came from Kerala. Wanting to appeal to his customers, Chef M. J. Gomez decided to feature fish head in his curry because he learned from many of his Chinese clients that fish head is considered a delicacy in the Chinese community.
All the fishy goodness
Fish head is actually a good source of protein. It contains collagen and is rich in vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids. The meat from a fish head is more tender and delicate, which takes on the hearty flavour of curry very well. Even the eye of the fish is nutritious if you can get past the idea of eating it.
A dish beloved by all
Today’s fish head curry has been adopted by other ethnic groups in Singapore. You can find it in an Indian restaurant as well as in Chinese, Peranakan and Malay restaurants, showing just how popular this dish has become.
Red snapper fish head is used most of the time because of the size of the head, and the meatiness of the fish. The curry that goes with the fish head varies. Sometimes it is rich and creamy with the addition of coconut milk. Other variations include adding tamarind juice, known as assam, to give the curry a more sweet and sour taste.
Curry fish head is the kind of meal where everyone sits around the table and share the fish head from a clay pot, spooning thick curry sauce over rice while savouring every part of the fish head. Instead of spending hours cooking up a storm, fish head curry is now available for delivery. Muthu’s Curry is the restaurant to go for if you are in the mood for Indian food. Their fish head curry is an award-winning dish that has pineapples in the gravy. You could also order Butter Chicken, Masala Prawn and even a non-spicy fish curry called Malabar Fish Curry.
Yu Cun Claypot Curry Fish Head cooks their fish head curry in a clay pot so that the flavours of the fish head can be retained while the curry takes time to develop. You can choose Curry Fish Head or go for Nyonya Fish Head if you are keen to sample the Peranakan take on this dish. Instead of rice, the restaurant also has steamed or fried buns which you can order to soak up the thick curry gravy.
Curry Times (Novena Square) offers different kinds of curry and they also have Curry Fish Head as well as Assam Fish Head. Interestingly, you can find a variety of vegetable dishes here that are mostly cooked with sambal or curry. These go well with rice too. If fish is not what you are craving for, they also have their signature Curry Chicken and even Curry Beef. Should you not have had enough of fish head, then feel free to try their steamed fish head with dried pickled radish.
Fish head curry is a dish that beautifully brings together two very different cuisines and at the same time illustrates how certain food which no one thinks of as edible is actually a delicacy to some others. Who knew curry and fish head are actually a match made in heaven? We all have to thank chef Gomez for this ingenious creation! And for all the delicious seafood you can eat, foodpanda!