Cooking Ah Pa

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Malaysian Fish Head Curry 咖喱鱼头

Cooking Time: 10 Minutes

Dificulty: Easy

Tag: Fish


1 2 kg snapper (head & tail)

50 grams of fish curry powder (seafood curry)

8 cloves garlic (minced)

3 onions (minced)

1 cm ginger (minced)

10-15 curry leaves

2 tomatoes (quartered)

3 teaspoons tamarind paste

15-20 okras (lady fingers)

3 teaspoons oil

1 bowl of chicken broth 

1 litre hot water

½ litre milk (can use coconut milk)

1 big red chili (seeded, garnish)

1 coriander root (garnish, optional)

Salt, sugar, fish sauce (seasoning)


1. Heat oil in a wok and saute onion, garlic, ginger, and coriander leaves for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Add curry leaves and curry powder. Turn down the heat as the curry powder burns easily. Continue to stir-fry/saute for another 2 minutes.

2. Pour in chicken broth and raise the temperature to high heat. Add hot water and tomatoes, tamarind paste and milk (normal milk). Simmer for about 2-3 minutes until the broth comes to a boil.

TIPS: If you're using coconut milk, do not add it early. Add in two stages; the diluted milk in the first half and the thickened milk (original) towards the end. Do not cook the coconut milk too long because the coconut oil will separate from the milk.  

3. While broth is boiling, add in seasoning (salt, sugar, fish sauce) and the fish head. Close the lid and cook for about 5 mins under medium-high heat. Remove the fish head, set it aside and proceed to cook the fishtail with okras. Likewise, allow this to cook for 5 mins. Don’t forget to flip the fish over so both sides are cooked evenly. 

TIPS: To make your curry more visually appealing, do not cut the okras because the slime will mix with the curry broth. 

TIPS: If your wok cannot fit everything, cook your ingredients batch by batch. Start with the fish head and remove it from the curry once it is cooked. Repeat for the fishtail. Lastly, cook the okras.

4. Take the fishtail out from the wok. Do a final seasoning if needed. The curry should taste sourish with a savoury curry taste and also a little bit sweet (due to chicken broth giving it a natural sweetness). Let the curry boil for a further minute and then it is ready.

5. Pour the curry with the okras and tomatoes onto fish (new plate). Garnish with coriander and red chili. It is now ready to serve. Enjoy this with white rice!