Friday, August 19, 2016

Fish Head Curry, my way.

Some people's trash is another'streasure. 

Let's take of example,  the fish heads. In my place in the south of Germany ,where proximity to the ocean is huge,  its  absence among the array of skinned, sliced, deboned and perfectly filleted fishes,  simply means that nobody want them. I kind of miss the colourful display of the  abundant variety of fishes  at my childhood market back  in the Philippines. Checking out its quality and freshness through its scales, colours of the gills and the clearness of  its eyes are just few things I learned while growing up.

Imagine my disappointment when I first visited our local  supermarket here in Germany. People's fast lifestyle did not leave room for profane things like scaling, weighing , chopping and  preparing your foods in-front of  you. Meat, fruits, vegetables and  seafoods are already prepared , neatly packed and ready for  taking. I no longer recognize the fishes that I love to eat so much. The lifeless, opaque coloured  fillets all looked the same. It also make many Germans or foreigners in that matter , weary to look at things as natural as fish heads.

It also explains FF's rather shocked expression while served with whole grilled fish when he first visited Philippines. I teased him about that in-front of his family when I arrived in Germany, only to get some sympathetic reaction. One cousin  claimed she can NEVER eat anything that stares back at her. Makes me think if she's  aware  that the steak she was cutting actually owned a pair of eyeballs.

So for more than 10 years, I became accustomed and honestly ,  grateful  for the convenience of Germany markets. But I do not deny missing certain dishes like Fish head sinigang ( tamarind- based soup) or Fish head paksiw ( cooked in vinegar).

Then today, while buying a kilo of salmon filet, I asked out of curiosity if they sell the fish heads . The woman at the counter looked at me as if I grew extra an head or something. After realising I was serious. she  went away for few mins  to ask some fish head experts. She then came back and asked me how many I want, which I excited replied 2! She looks at me like I grew three heads.

A happily every after story I tell you, I   got two  gorgeous and meaty  fish heads for just 2.50 EUR  that weigh almost a kilo! It's almost as expensive as some grocery bags in our place!

So I cooked the the fish heads and invited my Asian friends and we had a rather  sumptuous feast.

Fish Head Curry


Fleshy fish heads, more than 1 kg

1 tbsp. Fenugreek, 1 tbsp. mustard seeds,
1 tsp.cumin seeds
1/3 cup coconut oil

Paste :
Thumb sized ginger,
2 shallots ,
5 cloves of garlic,
1 tbsp. lemongrass paste,
1 tbsp. shrimp paste,
chilies, as much as you like

2 tbsp. Yellow Curry paste
300 g sweet potato
300 g pumpkin
2 tbsp. tamarind
500 ml water
400 ml coconut milk
coriander leaves, for garnishing 

For seasoning: 
with fish sauce, palm sugar
salt and pepper

1. Using a mortal and pestle, pound  of garlic,   ginger, chilies, 2 shallots until bacome paste-like. Use food processor as alternative.
2. Add in lemongrass paste/puree . 
3. Heat peanut oil in a pan, add fenugreek, cumin seeds and mustard seed. Cook  until all mustard seeds popped. Takes about 1-2 minutes.
4. Stir in pounded aromatic. Saute for about 2 minutes.
5. Add in  belachan / shrimp paste.

6. Then sauté in   your favourite curry paste, I used this Thai Yellow Curry paste. Let curry cook until oil separates.

7. Dissolve tamarind in  water and add into the pan. The curry will taste sour and salty at this stage.

8.  Peel sweet potato and pumpkin and  chop roughly. Add into the curry.

7. Once the sweet potatoes and pumpkin are cooked, blend it using a  mixer/ blender. The curry will thicken into a paste-like consistency . The subtle sweetness of the sweet potatoes will tamper the sour-salty  taste of the whole dish. We are not quite finished yet, though .

8. Stir in   coconut milk into the curry. It will loosen up and liquify the curry, making it '' soupy'' and will be perfect for cooking the fish head.  Now season your curry with fish sauce, palm sugar, salt and pepper . It has to be salty, sweet, sour and spicy.

10.Carefully add the fish heads. Add more chilis if you like your curry extra spicy. Season with salt and pepper , as needed. Cook fish head until flesh is tender and can easily be scooped from the bone. Takes about 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the fish.

Transfer into a big serving bowl, garnish with coriander leaves. 
Serve hot and with lots and lots of rice. Enjoy!

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