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Malaysian Fish Head Curry

Malaysian Style Fish Head Curry

Some handy tips before you start cooking this.

  • Ask your fishmonger to scale your fish head properly. Trust me, it's  not pleasant having fish scales in the curry while you're eating.
  • Don't overcook the okra. 10-15 minutes is fine.
  • Don't let the coconut boil in the curry for too long, otherwise it will  start to split.
  • Don't overcook the fish either.
  • Cook plenty of white rice as you will need it.

Let's Start Cook 



  • 1 kg fish head (ikan Merah always my choice), cleaned and scaled
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, lightly bruised
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cup (300ml) coconut milk ( Kara Brand )
  • 10 tofu puffs (any Brand)
  • 2-3 tomatoes, quartered
  • 10 okra
  • Coriander leaves for garnish


Blend finely:

  • 120g (4oz) shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch galangal
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 2 candlenuts
  • 1/2 tbsp toasted belacan (additional)
  • 3 tbsp chilli paste (dried chillies that have been soaked until softened, and finely blended)


Curry powder (mixed with 4 tbsp water to form a paste):

  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin



  • 2 tsp chicken/ikan bilis stock powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
  • Salt to taste



  1. Rub some salt over the fish head and set aside for 1/2 hour before rinsing it off. Ensure there is no blood left on the fish as it may cause bitterness in the curry.
  2. Heat up 4 tbsp oil in a large Dessini pot. Fry the blended ingredients (shallots, garlic etc) for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add curry powder mixture continue frying for 2 minutes until the chilli oil starts to release into the pan.
  4. Add the lemongrass.
  5. Add water, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1/2 hour.
  6. Add seasoning and coconut milk. Once it starts to simmer, quickly add the tofu puffs and okra. Simmer for 5 minutes before adding tomatoes and the fish. Cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes until the fish is cooked. 
  7. Turn off the heat and let it sit for 3 minutes so that the oil rises to the top. Dish out
  8. Immediately, garnish with coriander and serve hot with steamed white rice.