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

Tom Yum Gài (ต้มยำไก่)

Tom Yum Gài (ต้มยำไก่)

Hey Everyone! Just letting you guys know that I’m currently in Victoria with my family for 9 days; staying in Cranbourne with a family friend. Anyway, yes, besides that, today’s recipe is based on what I uploaded on Tuesday; using the homemade tom yum paste to make a (yes) chicken feet tom yum soup. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Chicken feet, really? And gizzards as well? Ew!” – actually not ew, well in my opinion that is! When I first learnt this dish from my Auntie, she cooked this with these cuts of chicken. My mom even gives the chicken feet a little pedicure; scrubbing them clean and cutting off their nails on each toe – so much work that I myself wouldn’t even be bothered to do! If you’re not into chicken feet, this spicy and sour soup can be made with other meats varying from mixed seafood such as prawns, squid, and clams, or other cuts of chicken, pork, and fish.

Also, I didn’t know this until I did a bit of research, but tom yum is actually a Lao and Thai dish; all along I thought it was just Thai. Anyway, for those of you who don’t know what tom yum is, it is a clear, spicy, and sour soup served widely in many neighbouring countries such as Cambodia, Brunei, Malaysia, and Singapore, but has also been popularised around the world. “Tom” actually refers to the boiling process while “yum” refers to a spicy and sour salad; and therefore “tom yum” is a hot and sour soup characterised by the fragrant herbs used to flavour the broth. The basic broth is made of stock and fresh ingredients such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce, and crushed fresh chillies. When I first learnt to cook this dish, I added coconut milk to the broth. Over time, we eliminated the coconut milk because my mom can’t eat, or more like, isn’t allowed to have anything with coconut in her diet.

Tom Yum Gài (ต้มยำไก่) Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR | SERVES 5-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1kg chicken feet, wash, cleaned, and nails cut off
  • 250g chicken gizzards, washed and cleaned
  • 2.5L boiling water
  • 1 heaped tbsp Homemade Tom Yum Paste (or more if you’ve deseeded your chillies before making it into a paste), likewise, you may use store-bought paste
  • 1 tsp chicken stock powder
  • 4 pcs kaffir lime leaves
  • 3 inch galangal, sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 pcs red bird’s eye chillies
  • 2 red onions, quartered
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Fish sauce to taste

METHOD

  1. Add the all the ingredients, except for the kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, lime juice, and tom yum paste, into a large pot. Bring to a boil and let it simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Then add in the kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, and tom yum paste. Give it a good mix and then add in the fish sauce about a tablespoon at a time; taste until the seasoning and taste is to your liking. At this point, you may also add in straw mushrooms or oyster mushroom if you wish. Let it cook for a further 45 minutes, or until chicken feet and gizzards are tender.
  3. Serve with steamed rice and enjoy! Quite a nice dish actually for a cold winter night.

Tom Yum Gài (ต้มยำไก่)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Spirali with Prawns & Coconut Milk

Spirali with Prawns & Coconut Milk

TGIF! Hope everyone had a good week. Today’s dish is once again pulled from my 1000 Italian Recipes Cookbook, though I must say that the ingredients are hardly Italian at all – but nonetheless packed with flavour and again very little ingredients needed. Today’s post will be a short one as I don’t have a long back story for you to endure before getting to the recipe, but please do enjoy this lovely dish.

Spirali with Prawns & Coconut Milk Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 18-20 MINS SERVES 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup spirali pasta (or other shaped pasta)
  • 250g tiger prawns, shelled and deveined
  • 1 cup (200ml) coconut milk
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, ends crushed and tips sliced
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli, sliced
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Chives
  • Ground salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water according to the packet instructions. Drain and set aside reserving about 2-3 tbsp of the cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the coconut milk in a small saucepan together with the crushed lemon grass, lime zest and half of the chilli slices. Leave to simmer over low-heat for about 10-15 minutes for the flavours to infuse into the milk.
  3. Add the prawns and leave until they turn pink (about 3 minutes), then stir in the chives and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Fish out the lemongrass stalks and toss through the pasta. Garnish with remaining chilli and lemongrass slices. Serve.

Spirali with Prawns & Coconut Milk

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com