Mohlyu is a dish I’ve not heard of till my friend Maxine told me about it a while ago. It is a curry of fish balls and eggplant that is hard to find outside of Eurasian homes. Chef Damian D’ Silva was kind enough to share his recipe for this dish with me. It is a lot of work – I must admit – making your own fish balls, blending and frying rempah, extracting coconut milk, toasting and grinding spices. But the resulting dish is one that tastes like it’s full of love! It’s like a hug in a dish.
Adapted from Chef Damian D’ Silva’s recipe
For the fish balls:
400g scraped fish meat (I started out with 550g snapper fillets)
½-1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon tapioca starch
Dash of white pepper powder
- If starting from fish fillets or whole fish, pat dry fish between kitchen towels. Using a spoon, scrape the meat away from the sinew.
- Mix the fish meat with salt, tapioca starch and pepper.
- Pound the fish meat using the back of a cleaver or meat mallet – it should get stickier and harder to chop.
- With wet hands, throw it against a large wooden chopping board or a plastic container – this breaks up the fish and gives it a little springiness.
- Cook a small portion of the fish paste to check seasoning before squeezing the fish into fish balls (weighing about 15g). Place the fish balls in cool water after shaping.
330g eggplant, stems removed, cut into bite-sized pieces
85g peeled red onions, sliced thinly
15g peeled garlic, sliced thinly
- Deep fry eggplant in hot oil until well-browned.
- Remove the eggplant from the oil. Remove all the oil but 100g.
- Add the onions and fry until golden brown.
- Add the peeled garlic and continue frying the mixture until the garlic turns a light golden.
- Pass through a sieve.
For the rempah:
6g coriander seeds
3g black peppercorns
100g peeled red onions
10g dried chillies, soaked in hot water
15g peeled galangal
20g peeled garlic
35g lemongrass stalks
7.5g turmeric powder
- Toast the coriander seeds and black peppercorns in a pan. Grind in a spice grinder to a powder.
- Blend with the rest of the rempah ingredients until a smooth paste forms.
For the curry mohlyu:
50g + 150g grated coconut
Oil from frying the garlic and onions
145g water or fish stock
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Juice from ½ lime
Salt to taste
Crispy onion and garlic
- Toast 50g grated coconut in a dry pan until it is golden.
- Blend 200g warm water with the remaining 150g grated coconut and press through a sieve to get thick coconut milk.
- Blend 250g warm water with the grated coconut in the sieve. Press through a sieve again to get thin coconut milk. Save the strained coconut for vegetable stir-fries!
- Heat the oil and fry the rempah.
- Add half of the thick coconut milk gradually, followed by all of the thin coconut milk. It should resemble a thick slurry.
- Add water or stock and the fish balls and simmer until the fish balls are cooked.
- Add the fried eggplant, the rest of the coconut milk and toasted coconut.
- Season with rice vinegar, lime and salt.
- Transfer to a serving dish and top with the crispy onion and garlic.