Gulai Ikan: Spicy Fish Curry

Gulai Ikan, a spicy fish curry, is a testament to the rich and diverse flavors of Southeast Asian cuisine. This hearty dish is enjoyed in various regions, each boasting its unique twist on the recipe. At its heart, Gulai Ikan marries the ocean’s bounty with the earth’s spice trove, creating a stew that is both comforting and invigorating. The curry is infused with a blend of aromatic herbs and spices, while the coconut milk imparts a luxurious creamy texture. The fish, tender and flaky, soaks up the bold flavors of the curry, making every bite an adventure for the palate. Gulai Ikan is more than a meal; it’s a celebration of the abundant seas and rich culinary traditions that define the region.

Gulai Ikan: Spicy Fish Curry


  • 500g firm white fish fillets (such as snapper, cod, or halibut), cut into pieces
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons fish curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind pulp, soaked in 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 green chilies, slit lengthwise
  • 1 tomato, cut into wedges
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste (optional)

Cooking Steps

  • Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves, and fry until they start to pop.
  • Add sliced onion and minced garlic to the pan, sautéing until the onions are soft and golden.
  • Mix in the curry powder and turmeric powder, stirring constantly for a couple of minutes to release their flavors.
  • Strain the tamarind pulp, keeping the water, and discard the solids. Add the tamarind water to the pan, along with the cup of water, and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat and pour in the coconut milk, continuing to stir until everything is well combined.
  • Season the curry with salt, and add sugar if desired, adjusting both according to your taste.
  • Add the fish pieces and tomato wedges to the curry. Simmer on low heat for about 10-15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through.
  • Once the fish is tender and the curry has thickened slightly, remove from heat.
  • Serve the Gulai Ikan hot, garnished with fresh coriander leaves if desired, accompanied by rice or bread.

Gulai Ikan is a dish that offers both flavor and nutritional benefits. Fish is a great source of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids, essential for heart health. When preparing this dish, selecting fresh fish is crucial – look for bright eyes, firm flesh, and a clean smell. The freshness of the ingredients, especially the spices, will determine the quality of the final dish. Use freshly squeezed tamarind for the best tangy flavor, and opt for high-quality coconut milk for a richer gravy. Gulai Ikan is a versatile dish that allows you to experiment with different types of fish and levels of heat, making it a beloved comfort food for spice lovers and seafood enthusiasts alike.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like