I will never forget the date, 7 February 2020, for two key reasons. Firstly, because that is the fateful night when code orange was declared in Singapore amid coronavirus fears. If you want to know what that was like, you must read my other blog here.
But coronavirus is old news! The second amazing thing that happened was that I enjoyed a hearty curry fish head dinner at Amoy Street.
Don’t I look happy, about to tuck into a plate of gravy-laden goodness? Hell yeah! For those not in the know, curry fish head is a Singaporean classic. You will not find it at most hawker centres. The dish is labour intensive to prepare and requires a lot of space to cook and serve. To enjoy this delicacy, you need to find a specialised restaurant. Most of them are located in the outer suburbs, also known as the heartlands of Singapore. Fortunately, I was introduced to Gold Ocean Curry Fish Head at Amoy Street by my colleagues. Who knew that finding new foodie faves is another perk of team bonding?
This delicacy is a unique Chinese-style curry native to South East Asia. The recipe is influenced by Chinese cuisine as well as Indian Kerala-style curries. A whole fish (usually snapper) is cooked in a clay pot with coconut milk, endives, eggplant and various spices, such as turmeric, chilli, mustard seeds, cinnamon and cardamom. It has an aromatic and slightly tangy taste, but mild on chilli, so suitable for less adventurous eaters. However, you are more than welcome to ask for a side of chopped chilis if you like things hot!
Don’t be put off by the name. You can order your fish with the head on or off. Some locals believe the head contains all the best flavours, whereas the eyeballs are full of juicy nutrients. But, no one will think any less of you if you just ask for the fish fillets.
Make sure you order plenty of rice with your curry fish head to help sop up the delicious gravy. At Gold Ocean Curry Fish Head, they also have other dishes on display at the window counter to add to your meal. In Singapore, we call such food displays ‘economical rice’. I’m not sure why! As a general rule, it is not too wise to eat economical rice because the dishes are loaded with preservatives and salt so they can withstand the heat and not go off too quickly. You need not worry too much here. Because the place is packed, the food gets turned quickly. Nothing is sitting around in the window too long.
I recommend ordering the stir-fried mushrooms, which are my favourite. The salted-egg prawns, green beans and chilli tofu are also tasty accompaniments.
Lunchtime is the best time to visit Gold Ocean Curry Fish Head at Amoy Street. Just be prepared for the crazy queue. But, it’s definitely worth it!!
I didn’t know that Chinese curry existed until a few months ago. Now, curry fish head is one of my absolute favourite local dishes. It is also one of the top places to have lunch in Tanjong Pagar.
If you are looking for more lunchtime inspirations, check out my blog on where to eat at Amoy Street too!
Gold Ocean Curry Fish Head
181 Telok Ayer Street