|Alternative names||咖哩魚頭 (Chinese) |
Kari kepala ikan (Malay)
மீன் தலைக் கறி (Tamil)
|Place of origin||Singapore|
|Region or state||Southeast Asia|
|Created by||M.J. Gomez|
|Serving temperature||Hot or warm|
|Main ingredients||Red snapper fish head, vegetables (okra, eggplant, Long bean)|
|Variations||Fish amok, Fish head casserole, Ho mok pla, mok pa|
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Fish head curry is a Singaporean dish deriving from a hybrid of Indian and Chinese ethnic cuisines. The head of a red snapper is stewed in a curry with assorted vegetables such as okra and eggplants. It is usually served with either rice or bread, or as a shared dish.
Fish head curry was invented in Singapore when a chef from the state of Kerala named M.J. Gomez, who was living in the country, wanted to bring South Indian cuisine to local diners. He started a restaurant called Gomez Curry, which was located at Sophia Road and eventually at 9 Selegie Road, both located within the Rochor district in the Central Region.
Although fish head was not widely served in the Indian subcontinent, Chinese customers considered Fish head casserole as a special delicacy, and so Gomez had the idea of cooking the fish in curry instead, as well as his own ingredients, therefore formulating a new dish.
Today, restaurants of all races in the country all serve variations of this dish. Fish head curry has become a popular dish among Singaporeans and tourists alike. Costing between S$10 to S$20, it is generally not considered cheap hawker fare. It typically comes served in a clay pot, and is often sold at hawker centers and neighbourhood food stalls.
Tamarind (asam) juice is frequently added to the gravy to give the dish a sweet-sour flavor (see asam fish). This variety of fish head curry also has a thinner, orange gravy.
Coconut milk can be added to this dish.
He (M.J. Gomez) came to Singapore from Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala, in the 1930s before returning to get married. After the birth of his first child, a daughter, he returned to Singapore, only to get caught here during the war. Mr Gomez then came to Singapore again, and later brought his family over. They lived in Sophia Road, where he started his restaurant, Gomez Curry, which later moved to nearby Selegie Road.
M. J. Gomez, the George Washington of fish head curry,. arrived in Singapore in 1928 from Trivandrum on the Malabar coast of India, which is now the state of Kerala. Now more than a dozen restaurants in Singapore serve it as their main course, often with just variety of curried crab, shrimp, other meats and vegetables as side dishes.