Feb 12, 2011

Ikan Bakar Recipe (Grilled Fish Wrapped in Banana Leaves)

Ikan Panggang/Ikan Bakar (Grilled Fish in Banana Leaf)
A true Malay classic, ikan panggang/ikan bakar (grilled fish wrapped in banana leaves) is very popular in Malaysia. Marinated with dollops of spice paste, the fish is wrapped in banana leaves and grilled to perfection over charcoal fire.
Ikan Panggang/Ikan Bakar (Grilled Fish in Banana Leaf)
The smell of burnt banana leaves imparts the fish with a smoky flavor and the spice paste infuses the fish fillet with layers upon layers of spicy taste.
Ikan Panggang/Ikan Bakar (Grilled Fish in Banana Leaf)
Ikan Panggang/Ikan Bakar is usually served with sambal belacan with sliced shallots. I love the sambal as it adds that extra kick to this wonderful street snack.
Ikan Panggang/Ikan Bakar (Grilled Fish in Banana Leaf)
The key ingredient of ikan panggang/ikan bakar is the chili paste. I used dried chilies, turmeric, shallots, galangal, lemon grass, and a little bit of belacan as the marinate. For the fish, stingray wings/skate wings are ideal, but I substituted it with a sole fillet (you can also use any flat fish).
Ikan Panggang/Ikan Bakar (Grilled Fish in Banana Leaf)
Preparation might take some time; you will need to pound the spice paste, wrap the fish with banana leaves, marinate it overnight (preferably), and make the sambal condiment. But as you open up the banana leaves and the inviting aroma of the grilled fish fills your kitchen, you will realize that the end result is well worth the effort.
Ikan Panggang/Ikan Bakar (Grilled Fish in Banana Leaf)
Don’t you agree?
1/2 – 1 lb of fish fillet
Spice Paste
1 clove garlic
3 shallots
6 dried chillies
1 tablespoon of turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon of toasted belacan
2 inches of lemon grass (white part only)
1 inch of galangal
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon of oil
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Tamarind Juice
8 tablespoons of water
Tamarind pulp (size of a small ping pong ball)
Sambal Belacan and Sliced Shallots Condiment
3 red chilies (deseeded)
2 bird’s eye chilies (deseeded)
1 teaspoon of toasted belacan
2 shallots (thinly sliced)
1/8 teaspoon of sugar
  1. Using a mortar and pestle or food processor, blend the spice paste.
  2. Clean the fish and pat dry. Coat the fish with the spice paste evenly and wrap it with banana leaves. Use toothpicks to hold the banana leaves so the fish is wrapped tightly. Leave the parcel in the refrigerator and marinate overnight.
  3. For the tamarind juice, soak the tamarind with water for 15 minutes and extract the juice.
  4. In a mortar and pestle or food processor, pound/blend the red chilies, bird’s eye chilies, and toasted belacan.
  5. Add tamarind juice and sliced shallots to the sambal. Stir well.
  6. Heat up your grill and grill the fish parcel for 5 minutes on each site (or until the banana leaves are burnt).
  7. Serve hot with the sambal condiment.

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