Fish is, well, fishy. But give it a moreish spin with lots of ginger, garlic and aromatics and you’ll be swimming way ahead of the competition.

STEAMED FISH HEAD WITH GARLIC AND DRIED PRAWNS

500g garoupa fish head
salt and pepper
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp chopped garlic
50g dried prawns, rinsed and chopped
1 red chilli, seeded and chopped
2 tbsp chopped spring onion

Sauce mixture
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp sugar or to taste
1/2 tsp chicken stock powder

To cook fish
Chop the fish head into large pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a heatproof plate for steaming. Steam over high heat for about 10 to 15 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from heat and discard the steaming liquid.

To prepare aromatic topping
While fish is steaming, in a wok, heat the oil and sesame oil. Sauté garlic and dried prawns over medium-high heat until fragrant, golden and crisp. Dish out and drain on paper towels. Set aside.

For the sauce
Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan and heat up briefly.

To serve
Spoon sauce on the just-cooked fish. Sprinkle over with the aromatic garlic and dried prawn topping, chopped chilli and spring onion. Serve at once.

GAROUPA FILLET WITH GINGER-THYME SAUCE

Mashed potato
1 (120g) russet potato, peeled and quartered
1 tbsp butter
50ml milk
salt and pepper to taste

Ginger-thyme sauce
2 tsp butter
45g ginger, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 stalk fresh thyme, chopped
100ml whipping cream
salt and pepper to taste
chicken stock powder to taste
turmeric powder to taste

Fish
250g garoupa fish fillet, skin removed
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 tbsp mustard sauce

Sauteed pea sprouts
1 tsp butter
1 clove garlic, chopped
25g pea sprouts (tau miew)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Garnishing
some rocket leaves and thyme stalks

To prepare mashed potato
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add potato and cook until tender – about 20 minutes. Remove potato. Heat butter in a small nonstick pan together with milk over low heat until butter is melted and the mixture steams. Pour milk mixture onto the potato. Use a masher to mash potato until smooth and creamy. Season to taste. Keep warm.

For the sauce
Heat butter in a saucepan and fry ginger slices, bay leaf and thyme over low heat until aromatic. Pour in whipping cream and season to taste with salt, pepper and chicken stock powder. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-low heat. Add a pinch of turmeric powder; stir to mix it in. Transfer to a dish.

To cook
Season garoupa fillet lightly with salt and pepper. Heat enough oil in a nonstick frying pan to panfry garoupa fillet over medium-low heat until cooked on both sides. Dish out and spread mustard sauce on the fish.

Heat 1 teaspoon butter in a pan and sauté garlic till fragrant. Add the pea sprouts, salt and pepper. Stir-fry briefly over high heat until just cooked. Dish out.

To serve
Spoon mashed potato into a piping bag and pipe onto a serving plate. Top with pea sprouts and the fish fillet. Spoon ginger-thyme sauce by the side and garnish with rocket leaves and thyme. Serve immediately.

ASAM PEDAS FISH HEAD

600g garoupa fish head
salt and pepper to taste
cornflour for coating
50g tamarind paste
350ml water
3 tbsp oil
1 lemongrass, crushed
1 sprig polygonum (daun kesom)
4 lady’s fingers, sectioned
2 baby eggplants, quartered

Spice paste
15g garlic
15g shrimp paste (belacan)
20g fresh turmeric, chopped
35g ginger
45g onion
40g fresh red chillies, seeded
75g dried chillies, soaked

Seasoning
1 tsp ikan bilis stock powder
1 tsp chicken stock powder
sugar and salt to taste

To prep fish
Season garoupa fish head with salt and pepper. Lightly coat fish head with cornflour and deep-fry fish until lightly golden. Set aside.

To prepare spice paste
Blend spice paste ingredients in a food processor into a fine paste.

For the tamarind
Mix tamarind paste with 75ml water. Squeeze paste to break it up; strain the mixture.

To cook
Heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté the spice paste until aromatic. Add the tamarind water and lemongrass. Pour in remaining water and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add polygonum leaves, lady’s fingers and baby eggplants. Add seasoning to taste. Add fish head into the tamarind broth and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, or until fish is cooked. Serve hot.