Since my last visit to Ocean Curry Fish Head for its Nyonya-style fish head curry, I had been missing that sour and spicy gravy that was deliciously moreish. Do you know Nyonya-style fish curry is made from assam or tamarind (that’s why it’s tangy) and that there is no addition of coconut milk? It’s what I call a healthy curry so I can slurp up all that gravy without feeling guilty!
For my version of Nyonya Fish Curry, I used Spanish mackerel (batang) steaks as I wanted a cut that was meaty and easy to eat without the hassle of picking out bones every time. If you like fish heads, you can use snapper or sea bream. Ang Sai, Ang Goi and Ang Go Li are some of the popular choices of fish used in fish head curries in Singapore so if you’re getting your fish from the wet market, just tell your fishmonger to give you either one.
Nyonya Fish Curry Recipe
Ingredients (serves 4-5)
5-6 pcs Spanish mackerel (batang) steaks approx. 550g
350g honey pineapple, sliced into chunks
3 tomatoes, cut into wedges
280g egg plant (brinjal), sliced into chunks
230g okra (lady’s fingers), sliced
2 red onions, peeled & diced
1-inch knob fresh turmeric, peeled
1-inch knob galangal, peeled
2 torch ginger flowers, thinly sliced (reserve stems in whole)
5 fresh red chillies
12 dried chillies, soaked in water & seeded
tamarind juice (mix 60g tamarind with 1/2 cup hot water)
2 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp sugar
salt to taste
1. Using a food processor, blend together the onions, galangal, turmeric, fresh and dried chillies into a paste.
2. Heat oil in pan and saute the spice paste till fragrant. Add ginger flower stems and stir fry for 3 minutes.
3. Add egg plant and okra. Stir fry till well combined with the spice paste and then add water followed by tamarind juice. Bring to a boil. Add sugar and season with salt to taste.
4. Add mackerel steaks and bring to a boil again.
5. Add tomatoes, pineapples and sliced ginger flowers. Simmer for about 10 minutes till fish is cooked through and vegetables are tender. Serve while fresh and hot.
I loved the burst of flavours with each mouthful of gravy – the sweetness of the pineapples, sourness of the tamarind juice and spiciness of the chillies – all came together so perfectly. All I needed was this and extra servings of steamed white rice – what a comforting meal indeed 🙂