Sate Lilit Ikan (Balinese Fish Satay)

Hello Everyone! We’re pressing on with our food journey through Indonesia, and this will be our last before we venture off to a new country on our Flavours of Southeast Asia journey. Sate Lilit is a satay variant in Indonesia that originates from Balinese cuisine. The term lilit in Balinese and Indonesian means “to wrap around”, which corresponds to its method of wrapping around instead of skewering the meat.

To be completely honest, I’ve never had satay made of fish meat before. The ones I was used to when I was still living in Brunei were made of skewered chunks of chicken or beef; I even remember having ostrich satay before and it was pretty good! This was way back when I still ate meat. We’d get them from a roadside vendor on our drive back home from work. The smell of the smoke coming from their grill would always penetrate through our car while we sat in rush hour traffic; that was enough to make us pull over and purchase $10 (4 sticks for $1) worth of satay with a rich peanut sauce to accompany it. Sometimes we’d also get some ketupat, a rice cake packed inside a diamond-shaped container of woven palm leaf pouch, to go with our satay.

Sate Lilit Ikan (Balinese Fish Satay)

Sate Lilit is a little different from satay in general; firstly, instead of using chunks of marinated meat, the meat used is finely ground. The meat can vary from chicken, beef, pork (prefered choice of meat), and fish. Various spices are then added to the ground meat to add flavour; spices included, but not limited to, grated coconut, onion, garlic, chillies, ginger, turmeric, and lemongrass. After the meat and spices are thoroughly mixed together, the meat mixture is then wrapped around a bamboo stick, usually broader in size, so that the meat won’t easily break apart when cooked. Some also use lemongrass as punctures to produce a more fragrant aroma to the sate lilit.

This recipe for Sate Lilit Ikan, or in English, Balinese Fish Satay, is savoury, spicy, and its sweet taste comes from the addition of grated coconut into the spice mixture. The combination of various flavours create a delicious sensation on your tongue with every bite that you take. Even without the peanut sauce, as most other variants of satays have on the side as an accompaniment, the natural taste of the sate lilit is already good enough. Serve it with a simple sambal matah to intensify its flavour, together with rice and other side dishes. For the Balinese, sate lilit has a significant meaning; it is often served during ceremonies and should be presented in odd numbers as a form of respect for the Gods.

Sate Lilit Ikan (Balinese Fish Satay) In


*Depending on the size of the sticks


For the coconut spice mix

  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 4 red chillies, roughly chopped
  • 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (white part only), roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp raw peanuts
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 thumb-sized turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 small tomato, roughly chopped
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, sliced thinly
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • 100g grated coconut

For the fish sate

  • 400g snapper fish fillets (or any fish), minced
  • 200g prawns, minced
  • Coconut spice mix
  • Lemongrass stalks (number depending on the size of your sate lilit ikan)
  • Coconut oil, for brushing
  • Banana leaves, for grilling

For the sambal matah

  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
  • 3 red chillies, finely chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks (white part only), finely minced
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • Juice of 6 small calamansi
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Coconut Spice Mix: Using a mortar and pestle pound the garlic, chillies, onion, lemongrass, peanuts, ginger, and turmeric into a rough paste. Next, add in the tomatoes and kaffir lime leaves, and continue to pound until the tomatoes have broken down.
  2. Heat oil in a medium-sized pan over medium-high. Add the pounded spice mix and sautée until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Next add in the tamarind paste, followed by the coconut sugar, and season with a touch of salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Continue to cook for a further 4 to 5 minutes. Once done, set aside to cool down completely.
  3. Sambal Matah: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Set aside.
  4. Sate Lilit Ikan: In a large mixing bowl, combine the minced fish and prawns together with the coconut spice mix. Mix until well combined.
  5. Take about 1 to 2 tbsp of the meat mixture and place it in the palm of your hands. Wrap the mixture around a lemongrass stalk. Repeat until all the mixture is used. I managed to make about 9 fairly large sate sticks. Brush them with a little bit of coconut oil.
  6. Line your grill with a banana leaf that has been brushed with a little bit of oil. Place the sate on the banana leaf and grill, turning occasionally, until golden and cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes in total. You may also remove the banana leaf after a few minutes if you want some charring on your sate.
  7. Once done, remove from the grill and transfer to a serving dish. Top with the sambal matah and enjoy while hot!

Sate Lilit Ikan (Balinese Fish Satay)

Sate Lilit Ikan (Balinese Fish Satay)


– Ally xx


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