Craving for curry fish head or Assam fish head and your favourite stall does not deliver during the lockdown? Why not try making it yourself. While the end result might not be the same as your favourite stall outside but I do find the homemade one equally delicious.
The ingredients needed are as above picture:
1 whole fish head – size depends on the number of people eating it
250 gm of lady’s fingers
2 big brinjals/ eggplants cut into long cylinder quarters
1 red capsicum
2 tablespoon of minced garlic
4 pieces of dried Assam skin ( skin of fruit ) which can be found in the local grocery store, this adds the sour savoury taste, presoak in water
2 packet of Assam fish paste.
Personally, I recommend this brand of Assam paste. I have tried a variety of ready sauce packs and this actually tastes the best. Unless you intend to blend and grind the Assam paste from scratch ( onions/chilli etc), this should be the best choice. ( I tried another brand in the above picture and the results were not as good)
First, stir fry the minced garlic in 2 tablespoons of oil until fragrant.
Add the ready paste to the garlic and oil and stir fry the paste till you can smell the chilli and onions fragrance. This should not be more than 1 min as you do not want the paste to burn.
Add the vegetables to the pot and stir fry them for 1 min and also add 1 tablespoon of sugar to balance the sourness of the paste.
Add about 2 bowls of boiling water to the pot ( boiling water will reduce the cooking time and not overcook the vegetables by boiling them for a long time). The water should partially cover the vegetables
Add in the dried Assam skin
Add in the fish head and tomato and bring the pot to a quick boil
Cover up the pot while boiling so that the gravy does not dry up. The fish should take 6 to 10 mins to get cooked. ( depending on the size)
Once the fish is cooked, you can remove the fish from the pot to prevent overcooking. You can continue to boil the vegetables if you would prefer them softer. This is the point where you can taste the gravy and adjust the taste to your tastebuds. If you like it sweeter, add sugar, saltier to add salt.
Once everything boils and is cooked to your preference, the dish is done. The sourness of this Ikan brand paste is good enough so I do not recommend to add anymore flavourings for the sourness. For those who prefer meat than fish head, you can cook the same thing using the tail of the fish or the middle flesh of the fish.
Using the same Ikan brand, you can also cook curry fish head using their curry fish head paste. You can cook using the same steps as above except you do not need dried Assam skin but instead you need 500 ml of fresh coconut milk. You also do not need tomatoes and capsicum but you can add a couple of potatoes.
The most important tip when cooking your own fish dish is to get fresh fish and to cook it while fresh and not frozen to maintain the natural sweetness. Do not to overcook the fish as this will make the meat tough and dry.