Fish Head Curry

Fish Head Curry 1

Fish Head Curry is a curry dish popular in the Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine, it is usually made out of large red snapper head cooked in a Kerala-style curry together with okra, eggplants and tomatoes.

The origins of this dish began in Singapore during the mid-70’s when a chef named Gomez in a restaurant called Tank Road wanted to showcase his South Indian dish to cater to the locals more specifically the Chinese who considers fish head as a specialty. It easily became a hit and become popular quickly even in Malaysia.

It is a good mix of different cuisines where the curry was taken from the Indians while the fish head preparation was taken from the Chinese but the whole inspiration of the dish is an essential Begali food item called Muri Ghanto where rice and fish is cooked with curry spices and coconut milk during special occasions. The difference between this and the modern fish head curry is that the Muri Ghanto contains rice and sometime even called as the Bengali paella.

The dish for those who haven’t tried it is really nice, the spices and the mild fish pairs well together. Usually served with rice lined with banana leaf on the bottom, the curry sauce is then poured over it and served crackers called papadam.
Fish Head Curry
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
Fish Head
  • 1 large snapper fish head, cleaned and scaled
  • 3 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 dozen okra (optional)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, lightly pounded
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (omit if you don’t want it really spicy)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • fish sauce
  • salt
  • oil
  • chopped coriander, to garnish
Spice Paste
  • 8 pcs shallots, peeled
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 inch galangal, peeled
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled
  • 2 pcs candlenuts
  • 3 pcs red chillies
  • 2 tbsp oil
  1. Generously rub salt on fish head and set it aside for 30 minutes. Rinse with running water then set it aside.
  2. Place all spice paste ingredients in a food processor then blend well to make a paste, set it aside.
  3. In a large wok add oil then sauté the spice paste for around 3 minutes or until really fragrant. Add the curry powder and cayenne and fry for 2 more minutes.
  4. Add water and lemongrass, bring it to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Add the coconut milk and let it boil again, once boiling add the fish head, okra (if using) and tomatoes, cover the wok then simmer for 15 minutes turning the fish over to the other side halfway the cooking time.
  6. Turn heat off then serve with freshly steamed rice.


Fish Head Curry Wide 1


6 Responses

  1. This cut of fish is unfamiliar to most American palates, but it sounds really flavorful.

  2. You know what Ray.
    my old man said that Fish head curry can be the great selection tools for future mrs.Dentist Chef
    My dad ask me to bring a girl to a fish head curry restaurant, if she eat it without any hesitation and cleaned the goodness out of the bone, she would be a great wife then….

  3. One of my favourite curries ever ! I like the nonya versions too that use assam (tamarind) to make it a more sour curry. YUM!

  4. cj says:

    What kind of curry should I purchase?

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