Salted Fish Bone Vegetable Curry — Whip it UP!

Salted Fish Bone Vegetable Curry (Gulai Kiam Hu Kut)

By Goh Chooi Yoke

Gulai Kiam Hu Kut, or Salted Fish Bone Vegetable Curry, is a popular dish where the bones of the salted threadfin fish imparts deliciously briny accents to the vegetable curry.


Total time: 1¼ hours
Difficulty: 3/5
Cost: <$18
Servings: 8-10 persons

A: Salted Fish

250g salted threadfin (Ikan kurau) fish bones, washed and soaked 15 minutes in water


B: Curry Base

250ml (1 cup) cooking oil
3 tablespoons store-bought rempah tumis (premixed chilli paste)


C: Prawns, Vegetables

500g small prawns, shelled and deveined
10 long beans, cut into 5cm lengths
200g cabbage, cut into large squares
1 eggplant, cut into pieces
20 tofu puffs, cut into halves


D: Liquid Ingredients

Hot water, approximately 500 ml
200ml coconut milk


E: Seasoning

Salt and sugar to taste




1. Drain the fish bones. Using paper towels, pat dry all the bones.

2. Heat 1 cup of oil in a wok or saucepan over medium heat. Fry the salted fish until light brown. Remove and set aside.

3. Retain 3 tablespoons of oil in the wok or saucepan. Stir-fry chilli paste until the oil separates from the paste, thus releasing  the aromas of the chilli paste.

4. Add in prawns and salted fish. Stir-fry for 1 minute.

5. Add in vegetables and tofu puffs, continue frying until they’re fully coated with the chilli paste. You can add more vegetables if desired.

6. Pour in enough hot water to cover the curry. Bring it to a boil. Simmer over medium heat until the vegetables are soft. Taste the curry. If it’s not salty enough, add some salt. Add sugar to taste.

7. Finally, pour in coconut milk and stir it in gently. Boil for 5 minutes over low heat until the chilli oil surfaces, indicating that the coconut milk is sufficiently cooked (this ensures that the curry will not spoil easily). For fuller flavours, allow the curry to stand at room temperature for 5-6 hours or overnight in the fridge.

8. Serve hot with steamed rice.


TIP:  If you prefer a less salty curry, soak the salted fish bones another 15 minutes. Substitute coconut milk with fresh milk for a healthier curry.
TECHNIQUE: Hot water speeds up the boiling process so that the vegetables cook faster. The curry develops fuller flavours if allowed to stand 5-6 hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge.

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