Twice-Cooked Fish Head

Black Bean Chicken Soup
March 15, 2007
Black Bean Fish Soup
March 29, 2007

I guess you know by now, I am very selective of my fish dishes. Here’s a dish I would highly recommend to all my readers who don’t have a love affair with fish dishes. This is my mom’s favourite twice-cooked fish recipe.

You may use other small fishes like baby ma-yaw but for the authentic style recipe, we love to use fish head pieces. I usually settle for a fairly large sek-pan head or even a ma-yaw head. The stomach side of the big fish is also quite good for this recipe because it has the fish oil factor and the smooth texture.

Twice-cooked term is used because I first fry the fish pieces then steam it to get the desired dish I want.


800 gm sek pan fish head (cut into bite size pieces)
a generous amount of grapeseed oil
10 slices of old ginger

Ingredients added later

  • 50 gm ginger (julienne)
  • 3 large red chili (seeds removed, sliced)
  • 2 small chili padi (seeds removed, sliced)
  • a drizzle of dark soy sauce
  • a drizzle of light soya sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 30 ml hot water
  • 3 Tbsp of freshly made garlic oil (see method and photo below)



Firstly, let me refresh you on how to make garlic oil. Simple. Just take 1 bulb of garlic, shelled and pulse using a hand chopper. Make sure it is not too fine in texture. Heat a rice bowl of olive oil in a non-stick pan. When the oil is hot, scrape in the chopped garlic and stir continuosly until the garlic starts to brown slightly. Take the pan off the heat and pour into a small clay pot with lid to cool. Do not cover the pot until the garlic oil is completely cool. Oil can be used for as long as a week. Always use a clean spoon to scoop the oil and garlic to prevent contamination.

  1. Heat a non-stick pan with a generous amount of grapeseed oil. Put in a few slices of ginger and fish head pieces. Fry the fish head pieces until light brown and fragrant. Take out and set aside. Repeat this process until all the fish head pieces is completely fried.
  2. Place fried fish head pieces in a large bowl and and add all the rest of the ingredients onto the fish head and steam for 30 minutes.
  3. Serve immediately with steaming rice.

Note : The amount of soy sauce used is determined by the level of saltiness you desire, same goes with the number of chili used for extra heat.

What I like about this dish is that after steaming, the texture of the fish turns soft and flavourful. Love it especially when I savour those spicy, salty and sweet smooth oily jaw and cheek pieces. Just melts in the mouth.

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