Thursday, 14 July 2011

Day 253,254 & 261-Ingredients for Fish Head Curry

Some of us are convinced that the 1st pot of fish head curry was created by an Indian chef called Gomez in Singapore. Back then in the 50s, where labourers and coolies squat in the backstreets for quick and cheap meals, the resourceful  Gomez had thought of a way to cook the fish heads that were usually thrown away. This dish was thought to be a uniquely Singapore one as Indians generally do not eat fish heads.  This controversial theory was of course promptly rejected by the Malaysians who claimed Fish Head Curry as their national dish. 

The Rollas however firmly believe that this dish originated from an upmarket restaurant  in  India. Needless to say, the dish is the household's favourite. At all time, ingredients necessary to whip up a pot of the curry are found in their kitchen. 

Firstly, we have the fishes of course. There are 2 types here.  The red snapper or ikan merah are generally used by the Singaporeans for this curry. It is also the one strangely preferred to by Sans!  She is of course a frequent visitor at the Rolla home, especially at meal times. The other type is the Rohi which is used a lot in Orissa and Bangladesh for the same curry. 

These fishes were bought in the JJ market in Bangkok- freezing not required as the smell was effectively masked with a generous seasoning of curry incense paste. The dish is a chopstick rest made with coconut shell and stolen from my  mum's kitchen.

Then there's the platter of necessary spices. You will need 

cumin seeds
2 inches
1 tbsp
Chili powder1 tsp
turmeric powder1/2 tsp
coriander powder3 tsp
red chili1
mustard seeds1/2 tsp
fenugreek seeds1 tsp

You will also need curry leaves, preferably picked from the garden with a bamboo sieve that is actually a plastic rement and a gift from sweet Glenda. The metal basin was bought from a shop in  Little India almost 3 years ago. 

No good curry can be made without coconut milk and at the Rollas, only the best are used. I am sure many of you can tell that these are Kiva's. They were bought in April last year but they are as fresh as if they were just plucked from the tree.

These ingredients are strictly optional. The purist will not approve the use of potatoes although okra is encouraged . Cucumbers and green chillis can be made into a side dish of cool and hot salad which some people like with tomato ketchup.  Personally, I think tomato ketchup is a poor companion for any dish, even MacDonald's french fries. All items were bought from JJ market in Bangkok and most of them were touched up with paint for a more authentic look and feel. 

Lastly,  may we show off what many regard as the most important ingredients for a pot of fish head curry par excellence. The utensils! Starting from the left-  a perky ceramic pot gifted by Rosanna when I visited her in Genoa last year. The clay cooking pot was bought at JJ market in Bangkok. The bowls were panted metal caps, ladles were made from the same metal caps, toothpicks and threads. The ladle holder is a wooden bead and the antique wooden sieve was bashed from a badly made metal one. 

I will be off to Bali in less than 24 hours to sample the Balinese version of their fish head dish which is really a spicy fish head soup or sup kepala ikan, sweaty hot, at the Warung Mak Beng in Sanur.  When I return, I will unveil the Rolla's kitchen with all these ingredients in their proper and permanent place.  

In the meantime, how many of you will like some gelatinous jelly like fish eye as souvenirs from Bali? 


Sumaiya Mehreen said...

Love the photos, darling! Fish head curry is a favorite at my parents' house... we are from Bangladesh. Have fun in Bali :)

Drora's minimundo said...

What a nice presentation! wonderful minis and good photos. Enjoy your visit to Bali. Hugs

malu2 said...

Fantastico,Sans, fantastico!!!!!!, excelente presentacíon,muy real y un gusto esquisito.Besos.MªLuisa.

rosanna said...

Never tried fish head curry and 'm not sure I'd try heads are not that yummy to me athough I love curry.
Have a nice trip to Bali, greet it for us as well. Nice memories there... Hugs Ro

Sans! said...

Heyyyyyyyyyyyy Sumaiya!!! Long time no see! I know you are from Bangladesh. :) I guess you are familiar with Rohi then? :):) I sure am not ..haha :)

Sans! said...

Thank you Drora. I will be doing a lot of lying down in Bali :):) and maybe swimming...slowwwwwww swimming so I can strengthen my back :).

Sans! said...

Muchas gracias, querida María Luisa! Su comentario me hace sonreír de oreja a oreja:)

Sans! said...

Rosanna, I will put an Italian flag for you at Tanah Lot if we go there :)! haha

Been meaning to ask you where to eat..but never mind. Will not be walking too much. And did I say I want to try sup kepela ikan in Sanur? I lied! I don't even like Sanur. And fish eye? More my poison than my meat . I do like the fish head curry in Little India :). Very good with papadum.

Kikka said...

Hi Sans, Long time no see..

Your story and photos are amazing again! Just adore them!
Fish Head Curry, Can hardly imagine..
and that "ikan merah" sound so perfect to me...And the picture of the spices! Wow!
I am hungry now !

The Old Maid said...

Oh enyoy your trip to Bali - make a lot photos please!!!
The ones in your post are great although never tried fish heads in any way.
The eye? I've heard you can't really eat an eye, maybe swallow it but no bite - don't know if it is true as there are no meals like that here.;)
BUT as the news I can tell you they have just opened Indian restaurant in my town so when you come here one day, we can go there together:) Have no idea if the chef is from India any way;D

Piikko said...

Dear Sans, I'm fine too thank you!:)
Except now, after reading your delicious post, I'm hungry!
Oh wow, what minies you have made!!! Everything looks so real that at first sight I didn't realise that they are minies. I have to read many times to understand. :)
-By the way, did you find the Water Nymph from my 'twilight' photo?:D
Hugs, piikko

Eva - tatalamaru said...

Que bonito te ha quedado todo. Y la explicación muy buena también, con ingredientes incluidos. Si alguna vez vienes a Barcelona, te invito a que me prepares ese plato, me gustará probarlo.
Un beso

BiWuBär said...

Fantastic - everything looks so real you have to like twice to see if it's mini or 1:1... Using fish heads sounds very strange to me... but maybe eating "Sauerkraut" appears strange to you, too... ;O) But I would dare to have a look at the fish eye - as long as it's only the look and I don't have to eat it (LOL).

Have a wonderful time in Bali, hope your back has a wonderful time, too! Otherwise, threaten it with some fish eye *grin*


Katie said...

LOL.... Ummm , No Thank-you:D

YOu know, I kept asking myself if your pictures were of real scale.. or minii... Took me readinf it to finally go... ReallY!! Wow- I love it all put together.... But can we leave the eating of it to the dolls, giggles:)


Daydreamer said...

Dear Sans! Your tiny dishes with the fishes are absolutely Delish! :)Your tiny pots and ladles are so perfect, I had to wonder what scale we were looking at! The whole arrangement looks so real... I was hoping to dish up a bowl by the end of the post!! But I have to confess, I have never had fish head curry... or fish head ANYTHING..... and the mind boggles a little at the idea! But I am sure it is probably delicious! (In my farming days we made a dish from pig's head... called "Scrapple".... and it was very yummy fried for breakfast with maple syrup..... so I can imagine that the good cook can make fish head delicious too!)I can't wait to see the whole kitchen arranged!!

I hope you have a wonderful and RESTFUL visit to Bali! I hope your back heals quickly and you can enjoy your journey!

Glenda said...

You've made this dish look sumptuous in its preparation - quite a feat, as I'm not keen on food that stares back at me!!
Enjoy Bali!! :D

Snowfern said...

cousin and i used to 'share' fish eyes (one each), but only if they were fried.... i hope you get back from Bali all relaxed and refreshed ^ ^

you made the fish head curry already???? o.O i haven't even started-on-attempting (HAHA) the head XD XD XD

Rosamargarita said...

Genial (como siempre) tu trabajo!!! admiro tu realismo y perfección, realmente impresionante.
Buen viaje a Bali.
Muchos abrazos

Plushpussycat said...

Wow Sans! Your creations and photos are amazing! I feel like I've been transported back to my old haunts: Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong or India. I love the aged and used quality of the items--very realistic! So fun!

Sans! said...

Oooooooooooi Kikka!!!!

(((((((Kikka))))))))) and *two big smacks on cheeks

How have you been? I am always a little surprise that a platter of spice makes people hungry because it makes me want to sneeze :). My friends think I have a peasant's taste and do not appreciate good food :). It's true. Give me a plate of rice with soya sauce and chilli and I can be quite happy.

Thank you for your visit and sweet compliments Kikka :).

Sans! said...

Ooooh Ewa, you and I have a date! Most Indian restaurants are not only owned by Indians , they have chefs from there as well. So we will go eat there for authentic Indian food!

My dad and brother eat fish eye. So do many of my friends. Trust me, there's a lot of sucking involve :). Everything is swallowed except the cup that holds the eye . According to my bro, the texture of the eye is like fats. And don't believe anyone telling you fish eyes give you good eyesight. My bro is almost legally blind with 700+ degree in each eye.

Sans! said...

Did you see my comment on your post again, Piiko? I went back and got a 2nd look and was reeling over backwards when I saw the water nymph! I know now why that picture was my favourite? It is so special. You should make it your header picture.

It must have been brrrrrrrrr coooooold to be swimming when the sun is down:).

I typed my post last night with the laptop table ( a small bed table) on my lap at 45 degree and me almost lying at the same angle thus forming a V with the laptop. At my angle, the ingredients look like they could fall on me and I feel like a pot with my belly sticking out to catch them :).

Sans! said...

Jejejejeeje Eva-tatal! Si puedo cocinar pescado al curry cabeza, voy a abrir un restaurante en Barcelona!

un beso y abrazo

Sans! said...

Birgit, this is my last comment before I leave for the airport :).

I am so so so pleased that some of you think my pictures make the minis look real :). What more can a girl ask? It's better than diamond rings or a real bungalow with 7 bedrooms :) (my colleague just asked everyone in the office who wants to buy a a bungalow with 7 bedrooms, selling at an auction , owner unable to pay mortgage?)

I love saurkraut! By the way, I love your pork knuckle. It's the only thing I eat with the fats intact! I am addicted to it! I need to eat one a week!!! Heeeeeeelp!

I wish I am addicted to fish eyes instead.WAY Less fattening!!!!

Riitta said...

Hi Sans! Thank you for visiting my new blog. Sorry it´s in finnish only, but everybody can read photos anyway. Blogging is new hobby for me and I have been reading your blog much longer. You make real like objects of surprising themes. And your photos are always treat for eyes.

Meapuntoatodo said...

Sans ... Por un momento, he tenido dudas ... lo que veía en la foto era real ? era mini ? Magnifico el relato culinario... y magnificas las fotos !
Yo te deseo unas felices vacaciones en Bali.
AH! ... I dont want de fish eyes ... of course ! agggg ...

Gemma said...

Estupendo!! parece todo real, da ganas de preparse esta receta con todos estos ingredientes tan autenticos.Un beso

CWPoppets said...

Fish Head Curry? Hmm, don't know about that. Hubby say's it tastes great. But I'm a bit of a chicken when it comes to eating heads, intestines, chicken feet or such things.
And for the fish eyes... No thank you! Maybe next time. ;-)
By the way I do know Ribena. It can be bought in Canada but haven't found it in Germany so far. I love to pour a bit into really cold sparkling water.

Amy said...

Sans, you have outdone yourself. Not only am I learning about Singapore and your food and culture and history, I'm also extremely hungry right now. Every little detail is perfect and amazing and beautiful.

I once had a soup that didn't have a fish head in it, but close, it had some fish eyes. It was a very good soup, actually. But I don't remember what I ended up doing with the eyes. I was a kid, so my guess is that I passed. But I would try fish head curry now!

Tallulah Belle said...

Wow this is fab...extremely realistic :-) Love your dish of spices.

Mick and I eat loads of curry...our fave meal :-) Indian restaurants are not that common here so we cook our own a lot...or rather Mick cooks them..
Fish curry though...nah...just can't even bring myself to try it. I like both but together ugh.

Hope you have a fantastic time in Bali xxxx

Norma Soulet (AZArtist) said...

Hi Sans,

Catching up here!
Love all the New photos. Everything looks amazing! So happy Eva had a wonderful visit with you and your family!

Ascension said...

Sans, estaria dispuesta a probar esa comida con los ingrdientes de tus fotos.......a no.....que no son de verdad!!!!
Hubiese jurado que eran los ingredientes y utensilios de una cocina normal jejejeje
No podria haberte quedado mas real este post.
Ahora solo me hace falta probar ese delicioso plato........que pena no soy tan buena cocinera jejeje
Sobre tu pregunta, no se si lo que ofreces es jalea o el ojo del pescado, si es lo ultimo.....yo paso que estoy a dieta jejejeje
Espero que tengas un feliz fin de semana
besitos ascension

Ana Anselmo said...

I love curry. but never try that dish, Here in Portugal there are the use to eat the fish head, but I don't husband love...
Your miniature work is always beautiful and special, your soul is in it!
Love from Lisbon

Teresa Martínez- IGMA artisan said...

Sans, preciosas fotos.
Hasta hoy no he descubierto que usted tiene un traductor en su barra lateral izquierda.
Me alegra poder leerla.

Eva said...

We miss you... :(
Anyway, it is always a pleasure to read you again from home.
Jelly fish eye???? AGRRRRRRRR.
I ma so happy to have seen your beautiful tribal house with my eyes...I am a lucky woaman...OH YES!!! :) :)


PS How is your back?? and Bali???

Sans! said...

Hey Eva :):). I am just back today not more than 2 hours ago :). Have taken my bath and coming in to check what's going on before going to unpack my stinking clothes :)

Bali is GORGEOUS! Better than the last time I visited :).

I haven't even seen Fai yet...the house is so quiet as nobody is home :)... nice and quiet :)'s really goooooooood to be home .

Will read all about your last day here if you are posting about it.

dale's dreams said...

Sans! I love this post!

When I first perused it, I thought it was all real life items, until I began reading all of the comments, then went back and read through it all so thoroughly.

The gifts you have received are wonderful and how you added and aged items to make them look so real life is such a true talent.

I just don't think I can eat any real fish eyes. Aren't they looking at you all the way down? ;)

Sans! said...

Katie, although I am no fan, I have eaten fish eye before from a fried fish. Its crispy :).

I am glad you thought the minis look real. :)

Sans! said...

Betsy, scrapple from pig's head???? And then maple syrup???

I have to confess that sounds pretty inconceivable! Until I went and google scrapple and saw what it is really like. :)So does it taste like spam? But if it does then how can you eat it with maple syrup? Isn't that like eating peanut butter with pepperoni pizza?

Do you know someone has organised a scrapple poetry contest ? Here are the winners:

Sans! said...

Glenda, when you visit Singapore, you must try the curry fish head. You can eat it with your eyes close :) .

Sans! said...

No no , Cindy, I have not made the fish head curry. :)

Went swimming today and thought of you. You wanna go swimming with me? I have to stop running now because of the back. Hopefully, the swims will strengthen my back so that I can return to running :). Let me know !

Sans! said...

Muchas gracias RosaM :). Sus elogios cálido mi corazón y mi estímulo para trabajar más duro:)

Las vacaciones en Bali fue un lujo donde tomar un té massageand todos los días:) y nadar en albercas. :) Fue muy bueno:).

Sans! said...

Jennifer, one day you must tell me all about your days in Asia :).

By the way, have you heard of luwak coffee? :):) Guess who brought home 3 packets worth of the coffee powder :).

rosanna said...

Hi dearie, I read your comments to keep up with you.
Too bad for your back but swimming is really helpfull!! less strain on bones than running and lots of muscles involved.
I'm happy that you liked Bali better than you thought.
You know I was a bit disappointed by it but now, one year later, I have forgotten the most turistic things and I can only recall the beauties I saw.
I would have never thought that I could say that but, yes, I'd like to back again. Not on the shores but more in the inland. Renting a bike and going around... I still have to taste the famous rost piggy ;o)
Take care please, minihugs Rosanna

rosanna said...

BTW I know Kopi Luwak Coffe, there is restaurant in a small village close to Genoa who sells it....
Never tried it, far too expensive, but do you really dared drinking it ????
you are much braver than me.

Snowfern said...

YA I WANT GO SWIMMING TOGETHER :D :D :D which days do you go? i always prefer to go weekdays after lunch, direct sun = peng.

you go which pool, jalan besar??? after our swim meets we can always do a bit of claying ;P

Daydreamer said...

Ha Ha! SPAM! Not like spam.... which is made from ham which is the salted and smoked pig..... scrapple is from the unsalted and unsmoked fresh meat flavor....we made it with oats not cornmeal so it was like fried oatmeal with spices.... mostly pepper and sage..... crispy on the outside and soft on the inside with sweet maple syrup..... YUM! You even forget there is pig head because it is mostly oatmeal...... it is not so easy to find the real stuff unless you make it from scratch! So I can't promise you would ever get some if you came here.... it's really old fashioned..... :)

Sans! said...

Cindy, not sure if your phone is near . Just sms you about swimming :).

Sans! said...

Rosanna, as at now I have just made a slightly mad decision to run in the half marathon tomorrow. I promise I will walk if I feel the pain. I just miss running a lot and it does not help that my running mates are emailing each other about where to meet etc. Even FaiZ who is not running will cycle to meet them at the finishing line for supper :(.

There is a cut off time of 4 hours . I will take a cab home if I am late ..teehee :).

Sans! said...

Ahhhh kopi luwak ! I have already had my 2nd cup. Yesterday and today. I had my 1st sometime back in a cafe and thought...hmmmm.. what's the big deal about all this designer coffees? It's like Blue Mountain. Weak and light ..only for the faint hearted :). hahaha

I love my coffee really robust . I mean, I drink my coffee black sugarless precisely because I just want a load full of unadulterated coffee in my mouth, down my pipes and then out. Kind of like the civet cat with the coffee beans :).

I made my luwak with a filter yesterday. No good. Today, I just mix it with water straight and leave the residue to settle at the bottom . Much better :).

Sans! said...

Betsy, I am not squeamish about pig head :). There is a Chinese saying about how Chinese eats any creature with its back facing the sky. I can assure you some just eats anything :). If you tell me it's delish and we chance upon one, of course, I will try it!

Sans! said...

Ritta, I am so happy to have made your acquaintance. :) Thank you for your compliments and I am real glad that we are finally "conversing" :).

Let's converse more !

I use Google Translate when I go to your blog. So I can understand a little of what you blog about.

Flor said...

Aaaaauuucchhh!!! Aun dudo si es real... ¡No lo puedo creer Sans!!! Que cosas y fotos más bellas!!!! Aun no puedo cerrar la boca Ö como siempre que veo ¡Corrijo! Observo cada maravilla que solo tu sabes hacer...Siempre he creído que tienes una magia muy especial y única!!!!!
¡Muchas felicidades por ese don tan especial!!!!
Un beso

Sans! said...

Mariajo, Acabo de visitar tu blog. Usted va a Málaga para sus vacaciones? Unas vacaciones geniales! Y estoy tan feliz de verte aquí:)

Sans! said...

Gracias por tus elogios Gemma:). Tengo grandes artesanos dar las gracias por el realismo. Algunos de estos artesanos maravillosos de Tailandia permanecerá por siempre desconocido.

un abrazo

Sans! said...

Ahhhh Christine, some of the best things in life to eat looks a little scary at first :):).

Ribena? Hmmm, o yes, I must have mentioned that in your blackcurrant jam post? I haven't known a kid who does not like Ribena. They even sell the light version here for adults like me:). Ribena vodka is also a popular cocktail in the clubs with the ladies :)

Sans! said...

Amy, I am wondering if you will ever venture here , you know, take that incredibly long flight all the way to South East Asia. I guarantee you your senses will be stimulated in so many ways :). And of course you know who you must hook up with when you are here :).

Sans! said...

O Jane, fish curry is really really good! I still think my mum's chicken curry is the best but fish head curry especially the assam pedas (sour and hot) one is superb! I prefer the assam pedas version because coconut milk is not used.

Curry is definitely not an easy dish to master. I wonder how Mick's taste like. You know Japanese curry? Most of us Singaporeans don't think it's the real deal. Then again, curry is actually not an Indian invention but a British one. So maybe yours is the real deal :):):)

Sans! said...

Norma S:):) Yes, July was an eventful month for me :)

Sans! said...

Ascensión, es el ojo que se ofrecen. Pero yo no traje a casa en cualquier puesto que nadie los quería.

Me pregunto si usted ha cumplido con Eva todavía. Lo que me queda algo pequeño para ti. :) Me gustaría poder hacer algunas de mis cosas oxidadas, pero la espalda le dolía realmente malo. Me siento mejor, pero como ya había dicho en mi comentario anterior a ti, mi día de ayer había hecho correr un poco difícil caminar, unos días más y estaré bien.

¡Ja! Voy a ir a nadar mañana con Cindy. ¿Crees que estoy loco?

Estoy tan feliz, (1000x feliz) que usted piensa que la comida parece real:).

un abrazo y un beso

Sans! said...

Thank you so much Ana :). Your compliment thrilled me :).

Your husband must be a foodie and appreciates good food :) Most men I know are.

Sans! said...

Teresa no sabes lo emocionada que estoy de que usted está aquí! Espero que el traductor hace un buen trabajo bueno!

un abrazo

Sans! said...

Hahaha Dale, poor you! I still remember how we kept trying to get you to try all these "weird" food when you were here! Have you become a little more adventurous where food is concerned?

Thank you my dear. For your encouragement and compliments! :)

Sans! said...

Wowwwwwwww Flor! Your words touched me so much. If you are right and I truly have a gift, it is in the ability to spot great work by these wonderful artisans. Unlike you, I do not have the skills to make something from scratch and make them so beautiful. You are the one with the true gift of creation.

Wowwwwwwww Flor! Sus palabras me conmovieron mucho. Si usted tiene razón y realmente tiene un don, es en la capacidad de detectar un gran trabajo de estos artesanos maravillosos. A diferencia de usted, yo no tengo las habilidades para hacer algo desde cero y que tan hermoso. Usted es el uno con el verdadero don de la creación.

Virginia Isabel said...

parecen real. la bandeja de las especias me ha encantado.

Ascension said...

Sans espero que ya estes mucho mejor.
El dia 2 de Agosto hemos quedado con Eva y otras chicas mas para hacer una kedada, sera el momento en que Eva nos cuente todas las maravillas que ha visto.
Ya te contare......
besitos ascension
En el ultimo post he visto lo bien que te ha sentado el baño y ese precioso tatuaje.

Kim said...

Gorgeous minis Sans- I think only you could make my mouth water for something like fish heads! I have never tried fish heads- but I have a rule about food- things have to be tried at least once before you say you cannot eat it :) I have eaten squirrel- and turtle soup. I don't care for turtle soup much-lol.

Sans! said...

Me alegro que te guste, Virginia,:) Gracias!

Sans! said...

Ooooh 02 de agosto? De hecho, es un día especial, Ascensión:)

Me alegro de que al igual que mi tatuaje. Ellos tienen un significado muy especial para mí


Sans! said...

Kim, you flatter me so :). I love your attitude towards food! It's very Chinese, teehee :). I don't like turtle soup (the local version is very herbal which means the soup is slightly bitter and taste like Chinese medicine) and I am sure squirrels taste just like chicken. Have you tried shark's fins ? I have stopped since they are almost an endangered species.

I have tried crocodile meat in Africa and eaten fried worms from Bangkok. I don't like the worms and the crocodile meat is very gamey. I also had horse floss before (once) :) and I know it may be horrifying to some of you but horse floss is yummy.

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