Assam Fish Curry

I made this Assam Fish Curry one morning when I woke up and had two slabs of very fresh kingklip white fish and was craving for something sour and spicy.

It turned out to be wonderful and I made it again for Curry Day in Singapore and it was a big hit.

The sauce is very versatile and can be used to cook crabs or shrimp in too.


900g to 1kg white fish steaks/fillets (I used kingklip in South Africa, and used snapper in Singapore)
1 large red capsicum
3 tablespoons of a good red curry paste
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 long stalks lemon grass
10 lime leaves (dried or fresh are fine)
8 to 10 pieces of curry leaves
3 tablespoons Shaoxing Huatiao wine
400ml thick coconut cream
Coriander leaves to garnish


Buy a nice thick cut of white fish. You can use snapper, dory, kingklip or hake.

I like to cut away the belly because it’s alot thinner in thickness.

Cut the steak portion into large chunks. They will shrink when cooked, so don’t cut too small a piece.

I don’t waste the belly parts. I like to roll them up.

And then tie the roll of belly fish meat with a single strand of chive, so that it will look as chunky as the rest of the fish meat.

Set aside the prepared fish.

Prepare the red capsicum. Slice off one end.

And then slice off the other end. This will give you a tube.

Slide a knife around the inside walls of the red capsicum.

Remove the inner seeds and membrane.

Slice the hollow tube of red capsicum into half and then slice into thin strips.

Grate or mince some peeled ginger to get approximately 1 tablespoon of ginger.

Prepare a handful of spices/herbs – 2 stalks of lemon grass, 10 lime leaves and a handful of curry leaves.

Add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil to a pan.

When the oil is hot, add 3 tablespoons of red curry paste of your choice.

I always use the A1 brand from Singapore. Find a good curry paste that works for you where you are, and then stock your larder with it!

Stir fry the paste in the hot pan for a minute.

Add the ginger.

Add the garlic. Stir fry well to combine.

Add the lemon grass, lime leaves and curry leaves. Stir well to combine.

Add 1 tablespoon of tamarind paste. Stir well to combine and dissolve the tamarind.

When the curry paste is nice and fragrant, about 1 to 2 mins later, add 3 tablespoons of Shaoxing Huatiao wine.

Add 400ml of coconut cream.

Every brand of coconut cream is different. Some are thicker than others. But don’t add water at this point. And don’t use coconut milk instead of cream or light coconut milk. It’s not the same.

Add 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce.

Add 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Stir well to combine and leave to simmer on a low heat. The sauce will get very thick. Don’t add water here because when the fish is placed in to cook, it will introduce alot of moisture to the sauce.

When the sauce has been simmering gently for 2 to 3 mins, taste the sauce. Adjust the taste here because every brand of oyster sauce/tamarind/wine is different and the sauce needs to be fine tuned accordingly. If it’s too sour, add a little more sugar. If it tastes flat, add a little wine and oyster sauce. Stir well to combine.

When the sauce is ready, gently add the fish into the pan.

Keep the stove at medium heat and let the fish cook slowly in the sauce. Try not to handle the fish too much in the sauce as it will cause the fish to flake or break up.

As the fish cooks, it will release moisture into the sauce and thin it out. Gently cover the fish with the sauce. Cover the pan and let it simmer till the fish is cooked through. It usually takes about 5 to 8 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.

When the fish is cooked, add the red capsicum strips and gently stir through till they are warmed through but not cooked till soft. If the sauce is too thick at this point, add a couple of tablespoons of water and stir well to combine.

Dish out the fish curry gently because the fish may flake or break up. Garnish with coriander leaves.


The printable version of this recipe is here -
Assam Fish Curry

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  1. This fish curry was delicious when we had it at your house, I am going to try it too at home. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Hi Bing, I love your blog with all the very detailed steps and photos you show for each recipe! Really helps to understand very well and makes me even more keen in trying them out!
    Have always been wanting to try cook assam fish but no idea how to. Now seeing your this post I can’t wait and will definitely try out this dish! :)

  3. hi bing! i’ve tried making your jelly hearts & here i am back for more recipes! Cant explain to you how great it is to have recipes to follow from someone who is from back home (: It makes finding things you use so much easier. Anyway, needed your help on this one, which brand of tamarind paste did you get for this dish? Is there a particular place i can find it in Singapore or will the normal NTUC & Sheng Shiong and all do? Thanks so much, looking forward to hearing from you again.


    • Yes. Tamarind can be purchased from NTUC. I’ve used any kind I could find. Brand doesn’t matter. Just make sure you do taste test and adjust accordingly. Some tamarind paste are very sour.

  4. just made it this evening! it turned out AMAZINGGG! (:

    • Hi Michelle, I’m glad you enjoyed it! It’s one of my family’s favourites. =)


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