Friday, September 03, 2010

Cooking Fish Moolie

Fish Moolie
Originally uploaded by Taking5
Fish Moolie is a classic Eurasian dish, one which probably made its way to Singapore via India.  But the recipe for this mild fish curry is not easy to find.  Most recipe books don't have it - but I found it in two - in our ancient copy of Ellice Handy's cookbook, one of the oldest local cookbooks around (probably now out of print) and another in Robin's Eurasian Recipes, a recent publication. Robin is the father of Quentin Pereira, the owner and chef behind Quentin's restaurant, and it is his curry moolie recipe on the menu of Quentin's.

My mother prefers Mrs Handy's recipe as it is the one which her mother used to cook.  And, of course, that's the recipe we've had for the longest time.  Our local daily domestic also learnt how to make the dish and today, I swear her version is the best ever.  She has long retired, and so I have to cook it myself if I want to eat it.  And actually, it is far easier than one would imagine.


Fish - about 500-600g.  Can use ikan kurau (threadfin), red fish.  The photo above features sea bream.
2 stalks lemon grass or serai (white portion only),
1-1.5cm of galangal or lengkuas
4 candlenuts or buah keras
1 teaspoon tumeric powder
2 large onions
1.5cm ginger, cut into strips
250ml coconut milk
Vinegar, sugar, salt to taste; flour for thickening

Pound the lemongrass, galangal, candlenuts together (or blended together), mix in the tumeric powder.
Fry the ginger and onions till soft but not brown, add the pounded ingredients and fry till fragrant.  Add 150ml of the coconut milk, diluted with 500ml water (or so) and pinch of salt.  Gently poach fish in the coconut gravy (gravy should reach at least two-thirds up the fish).  Cover the pan whilst poaching.  When fish is almost cooked, turn it over, and add the remaining thick coconut milk plus vinegar and sugar to taste.  Thicken with flour as required to reach desired consistency.  Top off with deep fried onions/garlic/chillis as desired.  Aside from the topping, this dish has no chilli, so it is not spicy at all.


  1. Hello - you have a lovely blog. I am Eurasian and I have to agree with your mum. I also have the book Robin's Eurasian recipes and the fish moolie recipe in it is nothing like the lovely one my typical Kristang grandma cooked for me. I have also eaten at Quentin's restaurant and the food does not taste authentically Eurasian apart from the curry devil. It must be because the chef Quentin Pereira has a Chinese mother who has probably influenced his cooking style.

  2. Thanks for your kind words. Actually, I quite like Quentin's food. Was just trying to say that nothing is quite like one's mother's cooking :-)



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