Assam Fish Curry is one of my favourite curry for many reasons. Firstly, it is not only hot but also addictively sour as well thanks to the tamarind (or better known locally as assam/asam). Secondly it is healthy with lots of vegetables (lady’s fingers, tomatoes and eggplants) and lastly, it does not contain coconut milk – hence relatively low-fat compared to other curries and keeps better in our tropical climate.
I cheated with instant fish curry paste so this curry was whipped up in under 30 minutes – faster than the time needed to cook the rice in the rice cooker. I have made curry paste from scratch before, and it IS tedious, so I am really grateful for the convenience of instant curry mixes, especially on nights when I only have less than 30 minutes to cook dinner. If you like cheater’s curry, do also check out my quick and easy curry chicken.
Whip up this assam fish curry on busy nights - your family will be impressed with the results.
Prep Time:10 mins
Cook Time:15 mins
40 grams tamarind better known as 'assam' locally
500 ml water
1 tbsp cooking oil
5 shallots peeled and finely chopped
1 packet instant fish curry spice about 200g pack*
3 sprigs curry leaves
juice of 1 lime
4 tenggiri fish fillets about 400 to 550grams
10 lady’s fingers (orka) tops trimmed, cut to 3 sections
200 grams brinjal (eggplant or aubergine) halved lengthwise and cut to 1 cm slices
2 tomatoes each cut into six wedges
chilli powder to taste (I use about 1 tsp)
salt or fish sauce to taste
* I use the A1 brand of instant fish curry spice. You can use your favourite brand.
Dissolve assam (tamarind) in 500ml of water. Using a spoon, stir thoroughly until the assam is dissolved and the solution turns brown.
Filter the assam solution (there are large seeds and long fibers) through a fine sieve so that you have particle-free assam solution. Set aside.
Heat wok with oil. Add chopped shallots and stir fry until you smell the aroma.
Add fish curry paste and curry leaves. Stir fry until you smell the fragrance of the curry, about a minute.
Add assam solution prepared in step 2 and lime juice. Bring to a boil, add the fish fillets and simmer for 2 minutes.
Flip the fish fillets to the other side with kitchen tongs. Add lady’s fingers and eggplant. Simmer for 5-7 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked. One minute before turning off the stove, add the tomato wedges.
Season curry with chilli powder (for the heat; instant sauce is usually not very hot), and salt or fish sauce (if not salty enough). Serve with steamed rice.
Noob Cook Tips
Instant curry sauce is usually not very hot, hence it is a good idea to add chilli powder to taste for the additional heat.
A small dash of fish sauce added at the end of cooking goes a long way to flavour the curry.
For a more distinctly sour assam taste, use more tamarind.