Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fish head soup

If I am asked what my comfort food is, that will be this fish head soup. Always this soup, regardless the weather. And if you enjoy Thai`s Tom yum soup, then it`s very likely that you`ll enjoy this as well.
My favorite choice of fish for the soup is Japanese amberjack, called buri here. Buri fish is very meaty and the head part is even full of good flavor with lots of collagen filling up the space between the skins and the bones. And the EYES are really good! I usually save them for the last bits. Just try them and you`ll know what I`m talking about. Am I freaking you out?
Well, let`s pretend that I`m using eyeless fish head for the soup then.

Start with making the spice paste. I used garlic, onion, ginger, chillies, and gochugaru (Korean chili powder).

Now heat a bit of oil on a pan and start sauteing the paste while adding bruised lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, coriander, and cumin.

After stirred the spices for a while, pour in coconut milk and stir again.

Now these are the head and the bony parts of the buri fish. I always, always feel happy when I see these guys at the store.

 Put them in the soup.

I added mushrooms and bamboo shoots too (my favorites), but you can use other ingredients or vegetables too.

Tom yum soup recipe calls for tamarind juice, but since I don`t have any tamarind, I used "Umeboshi", Japanese pickled plums instead. I-heart-umeboshi and I always have to have a jar of it in my fridge. Like nattou, umeboshi is pretty much essential in daily meals. It has deep flavors of saltiness and sourness, which probably the most intense among other pickled food I`ve ever tasted. Mothers (and wives) usually place one red umeboshi on center top of rice packed for bentou that gives a good resemblance with Japan`s national flag.
Not everyone can handle the intense flavors from eating this umeboshi straight (including him), but believe me, adding it to the soup will be as good as spritzing in lemon juice or adding a bit of vinegar.
Now I very much regretted not taking pictures before I chopped them off the seeds, but I hope Google will work for you.

Stir in the umeboshi (include the seeds too), adjust the taste with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar, and it`s ready! And if you have cilantro, chop up, and use it for garnishing. Even better!
The meat is incredibly soft that it practically melts in my mouth. Melts, I tell you. I also remembered telling you before how I dislike the small bones that scatter throughout the fish meat in sardines or mackerels, but this one is different. Most of the time the bones are big enough so pulling off the meat is easy peasy. And even when it`s not, it`s worth the effort!

I actually cooked this last night and while cooking I kept going from kitchen to living room (which is only 6 steps away, lol) only to make sure that I didn`t miss the part where William and Kate kissed. What a beautiful princess she is!!
I told my husband to keep watching and let me know when the kissing part came, but he fell asleep. So I missed The Kiss! How could he fall asleep?!

Spice paste
Gochugaru (Korean chili powder)

Kaffir lime leaves
Coconut milk
Umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum)
Sugar (a pinch)
Fish head
Bamboo shoots


  1. I have never had the guts eating fish head soups;), but this (again) is my mum's favourite...Our taste bud is quite different I guess ;).

  2. LOL! I think you should listen to your mom :DD

  3. 美味しそう!!!!!!!!これ、食べたい!Your hubby is lucky to eat this IN JAPAN! We definitely can't find in restaurants either... SO YUMMY!

  4. ブリあら大~~~好きです!日本に帰ったらご家族と一緒にたくさんたくさん食べてくださいね :DD

  5. yummy! oh don't worry about the kiss, we can always catch it on youtube heheheh

  6. Haha..yeah, that`s what he said that night :D

  7. I surely love this! What a combination between SE and East Asian flavours!

  8. I would love to try your comfort food, but I don't think my daughter would go for that. That is the one thing that bothers her when we go into the big Asian market by my hubby's's the bin packed with ice and fish heads.