Fish head curry
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Fish head curry is a spicy curried dish made using a fish's head. The dish is peculiar to Singapore, mixing the spices of a typical South Indian fish curry with the fish head, a delicacy amongst the Chinese.
Fish head curry was first concocted in a small restaurant in Tank Road about 30 years ago. The brainchild of an Indian man, Gomez, the head of the fish was used to suit local tastes. Fish head was not particularly an Indian delicacy. Understanding it to be a favourite with the Chinese, Gomez tried this dish to please his Chinese customers. Since then, the dish has become a hit in Singapore and across the causeway.
The curry used in the dish however, is based on the traditional South Indian fish curry recipe. The curry is a thick paste of rich spices coating fish pieces. Across the states, the ingredients differ although the basic method is preserved. In Kerala, in southwestern India, coconut milk is added to the gravy. The assam fish curry is a dry version of the Madras curry, as water is not added.
Fish head curry is served in both Indian and Chinese restaurants, often brought still bubbling away in a the large clay pot. In Indian restaurants, fresh banana leaves are laid before the diners and steaming rice is scooped onto them. The curry is then poured over the fragrant rice. Usually, the diners are also given crackers or papadam to complement their main course. Typically, other side dishes are also ordered. The first part of the fish head that is consumed is the flesh around the cheeks. Everything else fleshy is then removed, exposing the skull. The final and best part of this gastronomic ritual is the scooping of the eyes. Little India in Singapore has its own Curry Row along Race Course Road where gourmets have a fair choice of restaurants. Muthu's Curry Restaurant has received the highest accolade with the "best fish head curry award" won several times at the annual Singapore Food Festival.
Renuka M. & Rakunathan Narayanan
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The information in this article is valid as at 2002 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
Dinners and dining--Singapore
Cookery>>International and regional cooking>>Indian
Cookery>>International and regional cooking>>Chinese