Auguest 2021: Maria Reed

Pepes Ikan (Fish in Banana Leaves)

“Explore food beyond borders. Travel around the world, delve into different cultures, learn from people you cross paths with, and create recipes you’ve never tried before.” — Maria Reed

Auguest 2021: Maria Reed

Hello Everyone! I’m Maria. My love for food can be traced back to my roots. I inherited it from my family. My nanay, inang, mama, and aunts love to cook. Having a big family gives us reasons to celebrate and feast most of the time. I never learned how to cook until I got married and had to find my way around the kitchen on my own. I could still vividly remember when I started; I’d ask my mom for her recipes, watch a lot of videos, and read countless food blogs. I’ve travelled, tried new cuisines, and discovered my passion in recreating dishes I’ve had or never had before. I’ve gotten out of my comfort zone and became a junkie – learning, creating, and tweaking recipes.

I will be taking you on a trip to Indonesia on the Flavours of Southeast Asia journey here on Amcarmen’s Kitchen. The dish that I will be sharing with everyone is called Pepes Ikan. ‘Pepes’ is a cooking method where food (usually fish) is wrapped in banana leaves with its marinade. It is first steamed which gives it an earthy flavour and then grilled or baked for a smoky taste.

Pepes Ikan (Fish in Banana Leaves)

The spices are mashed together to a paste and then added with basil leaves, Indonesian bay leaves, tomatoes, and peppers with fish. All are wrapped in banana leaves and sealed with bamboo sticks at each end. Pepes Ikan is often thought of to be a Sundanese dish; favourite among the Sundanese people in the West Java, but it is also popular in other regions of Indonesia.

Pepes Ikan (Fish in Banana Leaves) Ingredients

Pepes Ikan (Fish in Banana Leaves) Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 2-4

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large tilapia fish
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 10 shallots, chopped
  • 1 pc fresh red chilli pepper
  • 10 pcs candlenuts, roasted
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste, toasted
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, bruised and cut into 2 inches long
  • 10 pcs kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • Bunch of Thai basil leaves
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 pc lime, sliced
  • 2 knobs fresh turmeric, chopped
  • 1 knob fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Banana leaf
  • Bamboo sticks

METHOD

  1. Pat dry the tilapia fish with a paper towel. Rub with the juice of half a lime and set aside.
  2. Paste: Add the chopped garlic, shallots, turmeric, chillies, and roasted candlenuts into a food processor, and blend into a smooth paste.
  3. Transfer the paste into a bowl, together with the fish, lemongrass, juice of half a lime, shrimp paste, ground cumin, sugar, salt, and bay leaves (if available).
  4. Place everything into a pan over medium high and add about half a cup of water so it won’t burn. Simmer for 15 minutes, flipping the fish halfway and season as needed. Turn the heat off and let it cool before wrapping.
  5. Once the fish has cooled down, lay some banana leaves with the bay leaves, kaffir lime leaves, lime slices, tomato wedges, and Thai basil leaves on top. Place the fish on top with the spice marinade, and top with more bay leaves, kaffir lime leaves, Thai basil leaves, and tomatoes.
  6. Seal the banana leaf with bamboo sticks on both ends and brush it with some oil. Place into a pan over medium high and grill, flipping until the banana leaf is wilted, for about 15 minutes or less. This process enhances the taste and aroma of the dish.
  7. Serve and plate with carrots and cucumber on the side. Enjoy!

Pepes Ikan (Fish in Banana Leaves)

Note: To make this dish more authentic, use bilimbi, also known as tree cucumbers and are known for their tart-tangy flesh, instead of lime and dahun salam, Indonesian bay leaves, instead of kaffir lime leaves.

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2021 | Maria Reed (@mariacocinera)

BON APPÉTIT

– Maria Reed

myTaste.com

Ikan Pepes (Grilled Fish in Banana Leaves)

Ikan Pepes (Grilled Fish in Banana Leaves)

Hello Everyone! Tonight’s recipe is actually also a national fish dish in East Timor. As we’ve covered back in March when we travelled through East Timor on our Flavours of Southeast Asia journey, the country was invaded and colonised by Indonesia after they gained their independence from Portugal. Therefore a lot of their cuisine is also inspired by Indonesian culture.

I’ve actually never had Ikan Pepes before; I guess the closest I’ve had that’s similar to this dish is Ikan Bakar, which in English literally means ‘burn fish’. The main difference between the two is how the banana leaves are used.

Pepes is an Indonesian cooking method using banana leaves as a food wrapping and secured with a fastener made from the central ribs of a coconut leaf (known as lidi seumat). The banana leaf package containing the food is then steamed or grilled over charcoal. Bakar on the other hand is a charcoal-grilling method where sometimes a sheet of banana leaf placed between the food and grill to prevent it from sticking to the grill and breaking into pieces.

Ikan Pepes (Grilled Fish in Banana Leaves)

Ikan Pepes is made by generously smothering the fish in a spice mixture. The mixture may vary among regions and places, but usually consists of a combination of shallots, garlic, chillies, coriander, tamarind paste, candlenuts, turmeric, galangal, and salt; all pounded together using a mortar and pestle, or blitzed in a food processor to create a paste. The fish is then wrapped in banana leaves to not only protect the fish from excessive charring, but also to add a subtle touch of fragrance to the dish as a whole. The fish is then typically eaten with rice for a complete meal.

You can use any type of fish for this dish as you prefer, such as snapper, perch, bream, or tilapia, and you may also opt to use fish fillets rather than cooking with a whole fish especially for those who don’t like struggling with fish bones. Likewise, while the method of pepes is commonly used to prepare fish, other ingredients such as shrimp, squid, chicken, beef, tofu, tempeh, mushrooms, or other vegetables are also available to be prepared using this method.

Ikan Pepes (Grilled Fish in Banana Leaves) Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS | SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 red snappers (about 500g each in weight), descaled, gutted, and cleaned
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season

For the spice mixture

  • 3 red chillies, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (white part only), finely chopped
  • 1 thumb-sized turmeric, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp raw peanuts
  • 7 cherry tomatoes*, halved
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Fresh banana leaves

To garnish

  • Lemon wedges
  • Red chillies, chopped
  • Spring onion (green parts), chopped

*Or use one small tomato and roughly chop. I used cherry tomatoes because I had some lying around that were getting soft.

METHOD

  1. Spice Mixture: Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic, onion, lemongrass, turmeric, and peanuts together until it forms into a rough paste. Add the tomatoes and continue to pound until they start to break down.
  2. Add in the shrimp paste, coconut sugar, tamarind paste, and season with salt. Use a spoon to mix them all together until well combined.

If using a food processor, add all the ingredients together and blend into a rough paste.

  1. Ikan Pepes: Place the prepared fish, that has been seasoned with a touch of salt and freshly ground black pepper, on top of a piece of banana leaf, on top of a piece of aluminium foil.
  2. Stuff the cavity of the snapper fish with the green parts of the lemongrass and white part of the spring onion. This is optional as I didn’t want to put these parts to waste so I decided to use them in the dish as well.
  3. Generously cover both sides of the fish with the spice mixture and enclose it in the banana leaf, and aluminium foil.
  4. Place the fish over a grill and cook on medium-high heat for 15 minutes on one side, and 10 minutes on the other; a total of 25 minutes, or until cooked through depending on the size of your fish or method of cooking.
  5. Once done, remove from the grill and transfer to a serving plate. Garnish with some spring onions, extra chillies, and lemon wedges on the side. Serve immediately while hot with rice. Enjoy!

1898

Ikan Pepes (Grilled Fish in Banana Leaves)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com