Fish curry

Kare Ikan

Fish curry is the literal translation of Karé Ikan; but I should explain that Indonesian ‘curry’ is rather different from Indian curries. The recipe may be used for almost any fish. In the former version of this book I suggested salmon steaks, which it suits well; but these are now rather expensive. It is better to select a white fish with firm flesh, such as haddock, angler-fish, swordfish or dogfish. In Australia the various fish known as whiting would be a good choice. Americans might like to use snappers.


  • 700 g ( lb, cleaned weight) fish
  • 6 shallots or 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp powdered, or 1 blade fresh, lemon grass
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 salam leaf or bay-leaf
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ cup tamarind water
  • 1 cup of thick santen (coconut milk)
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • salt
  • sliced cucumber
  • mint


Whatever fish is used, it can be cut into small cubes or slices before frying. Heat a little oil in a heavy frying-pan, and carefully brown the fish in it.

Meanwhile, in another frying-pan, fry the chopped shallots (or onion) and garlic until tender. Stir in the chilli, ginger, turmeric, coriander, lemon grass, salam, salt and tamarind water. Let this mixture simmer for 1o minutes, then put in the fish. Cover, and simmer for another 1o minutes. Add the santen and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Serve hot, garnished with very thin slices of cucumber and chopped mint. (Alternatively, put the cucumber and mint into the karé itself for the last 2 minutes of cooking.)

Incidentally, the same karé can be made with prawns. There is no need to fry the prawns separately; but fry them in the mixture of onion, etcetera for a few minutes before you put in the tamarind water.