Chef Damian D’Silva’s Recipe for Curry Mohlyu

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.

Curry Mohlyu

Adapted from Chef Damian D’ Silva’s recipe

Serves 3-4

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

  1. If starting from fish fillets or whole fish, pat dry fish between kitchen towels. Using a spoon, scrape the meat away from the sinew.
  2. Mix the fish meat with salt, tapioca starch and pepper.
  3. Pound the fish meat using the back of a cleaver or meat mallet – it should get stickier and harder to chop.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

For frying:

330g eggplant, stems removed, cut into bite-sized pieces

85g peeled red onions, sliced thinly

15g peeled garlic, sliced thinly

100g oil

  1. Deep fry eggplant in hot oil until well-browned.
  2. Remove the eggplant from the oil. Remove all the oil but 100g.
  3. Add the onions and fry until golden brown.
  4. Add the peeled garlic and continue frying the mixture until the garlic turns a light golden.
  5. Pass through a sieve.

For the rempah:

6g coriander seeds

3g black peppercorns

100g peeled red onions

10g dried chillies, soaked in hot water

10g belacan

2 candlenuts

15g peeled galangal

20g peeled garlic

35g lemongrass stalks

7.5g turmeric powder

  1. Toast the coriander seeds and black peppercorns in a pan. Grind in a spice grinder to a powder.
  2. 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

Rempah

145g water or fish stock

Fish balls

Fried eggplant

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

Juice from ½ lime

Salt to taste

Crispy onion and garlic

  1. Toast 50g grated coconut in a dry pan until it is golden.
  2. Blend 200g warm water with the remaining 150g grated coconut and press through a sieve to get thick coconut milk.
  3. 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!
  4. Heat the oil and fry the rempah.
  5. Add half of the thick coconut milk gradually, followed by all of the thin coconut milk. It should resemble a thick slurry.
  6. Add water or stock and the fish balls and simmer until the fish balls are cooked.
  7. Add the fried eggplant, the rest of the coconut milk and toasted coconut.
  8. Season with rice vinegar, lime and salt.
  9. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the crispy onion and garlic.
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Author:

Pamelia Chia is a Singaporean chef and the author of the bestselling cookbook ‘Wet Market to Table’. After graduating with an Honor’s degree in Food Science and Technology from the National University of Singapore in 2014, she decided to trade a food scientist’s lab coat in for chef whites. She has since been working in restaurants in Singapore and Melbourne, including Candlenut and Carlton Wine Room. Her deepest interest being the preservation and celebration of Singaporean food heritage and culture, she started Singapore Noodles in 2020 as a platform to share about Singaporean food to a global audience. Find her on Instagram @pameliachia.

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