Singapore Fish – Fish Moolie

S'pore - 001 Fish Moolie edited re-sized

I’ve had an enjoyable time researching on-line for the origins of this dish which is my daughter’s favourite fish curry dish. Most agree that it is of Indian origins and then gained popularity amongst the Eurasians in South East Asia. Don’t you agree that one of the best blessings about a culturally diverse population is the sharing of culinary skills.

The list of ingredients required to cook this mildly spicy fish curry dish is rather short for a dish that yields so much flavour!

I certainly would suggest that it be added to your Chinese New Year repertoire since it adds a delectable twist in taste to that must-serve fish dish. In Chinese language, the character “余(surplus)”shares the same pronunciation with “鱼( fish)”. Hence,  it is a common Lunar New Year greeting for family and friends. 年年有余 Nian Nian You Yu (May every year end with ample surplus)

Some comments about the Ingredients

  • Fish – Ikan Kurau aka Threadfin – This fish is highly valued by the Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore. It is usually the first type of fish when babies start their solids. You can use any white firm fish fillet for this dish.
  • Two types of Gingers – Use either fresh or ground powders.
  • Local shallots – if unavailable, substitute with large purple onions but these produce more liquid and hence the rempah will have to be fried a few minutes more.
  • Chilli powder – the amount may be lessened for a less spicy dish so that children may enjoy this dish too.

Preparing the rempah

Place all the prepared fresh aromatics into your blender and whizz them to a fine paste. For ease of blending, add 1 tablespoon of oil  as well. Then add the powdered spices. Give mixture a quick swirl in the blender and this rempah is ready for frying in a hot wok or pan.

COOKING

STEP 1. Heat a wok or deep saucepan over medium high heat, add oil and heat for a minute or two. Then, add the prepared rempah and stir fry till the rempah changes into a much deeper orange brown colour and emits a fragrant aroma. Prevent burning the rempah. To achieve this, continue stirring and adjust the heat. To reduce the amount of oil used in frying the rempah, drizzle a tablespoon of water once in a while to prevent rempah from sticking to wok (even if a non-stick pan is used).

STEP 2. Notice how the rempah has darkened and a reddish oil has separated? Add 1/4 cup of  coconut santan and stir fry for 2 to 3 mins. Then, add the rest of the coconut santan and continue to fry and stir mixture.

STEP 3.  Add in the 2 pieces of fish fillet. Continue cooking. After 2 mins or so, lower the heat slightly. Do not cover. It may take between 8 to 12 mins in total to just cook the fish. Length of time depends on the thickness of the fish and the power of your heat. You will notice that the fish fillet in the photo below has slits at regular intervals. The pieces of fish are thick, slits are made to ensure it is properly cooked through.

STEP 4. Once fish is just cooked, add the wedged tomatoes. Cook for about 2 more mins. Plate in an attractive serving dish.

RECIPE

Source of recipe. Mrs Lee’s Cookbook

Serves 4 to 6 people

INGREDIENTS

  • 500 gm fish
  • 1 ripe tomato
  • 5 Tbsp cooking oil; one of which is for blending of rempah
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • Rempah
  • gm fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 10 to 12 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 to 1 Tbsp chilli powder (photo shows 1 Tbsp)

METHOD:

Preparing the rempah

Place all the prepared fresh aromatics into your blender/grinder and blend/grind them to a fine paste. To lubricate the mixture for ease in blending/grinding add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil before you start.

The powdered spices should be added after you achieve a fine wet paste. Once powdered spices are added, give mixture a quick swirl in the blender. This step ensures that dry and wet paste is thoroughly mixed. Rempah is now ready for frying in a hot wok or pan.

Cooking the Dish

1. Heat a wok or deep saucepan over medium high heat, add oil and heat for a minute or two. Then, add the prepared rempah and stir fry till the rempah changes into a much deeper orange brown colour and emits a fragrant aroma. Prevent burning the rempah. To achieve this, continue stirring and adjusting the heat. To reduce the amount of oil used in frying the rempah, drizzle a tablespoon of water once in a while to prevent rempah from sticking to wok ( even if a non-stick pan is used).

2. Once the rempah has darkened and a reddish oil has separated, add 1/4 cup of  coconut santan and stir fry for 2 to 3 mins. Then add the rest of the coconut santan and continue to fry and stir mixture.

3. Add in the 2 pieces of fish fillet. Continue cooking. After 2 mins or so, lower the heat slightly. Do not cover. It may take between 8 to 12 mins in total to just cook the fish. Length of time depends on the thickness of the fish and the power of your heat. You will notice that the fish fillet in the photo below has slits at regular intervals. The pieces of fish are thick, slits are made to ensure it is properly cooked through.

4. Once fish is just cooked, add the wedged tomatoes. Cook for about 2 more mins. Plate in an attractive serving dish.

Serving Suggestions

Chinese Soups

1. Jin Hua Ham and Winter Melon Soup. Click here.

2. Lotus Root, Peanut and Pork Ribs. Click here.

3. Radishes and Dried Squid. Click here.

4. Pork Stomach with Peppercorn. Click here

5. Tang Ho with Fishballs. Click here

6. Watercress and Red Dates. Click here.

Other Seafood dishes

1. Dry Assam Seafood. Click here

2. Stuffed You Tiao (Baked).  Click here.

Meat dishes

1. Beef Rendang (spicy). Click here

2. Singapore Curry Chicken (spicy). Click here.

3. Quick Braised Sea cucumber, Chicken and Mushroom. Click here.

4. Cha Siu or BBQ Pork. Click here.

5. Pari Pari style Chicken Wings. Click here.

Vegetable Dishes

1. Spinach in Broth with 3 types of eggs. Click here.

2. Pork, Spinach and Egg Stir Fry. Click here.

3. Shanghai Cabbage with Oyster Sauce & Garlic. Click here.

4. Ladies Fingers with Dried Sambal Prawns. Click here.

5. Ridge Gourd with Bean Threads. Click here.

Dessert

Besides seasonal fruits and ice cream, any one of on the list below may be prepared a day or two ahead.

1. Almond Jelly + Longans Click here.

2. Coconut Jelly with Can Lychees. Click here.

3. Sweet Potato Dessert Soup. Click here.

4. Sago Pudding. Click here.

5. Orange Agar Agar. Click here.

6. Caramel Custard. Click here.

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