By: Aisah Wolfard
One of the most loved recipes from West Java Indonesia is Pepes Ikan. Pepes means ‘steamed’ and ikan is Indonesian for ‘fish.’ You can imagine how healthy this dish is, as the fish is wrapped in banana leaves and steamed with herbs and spices in a pan (you can use a bamboo steamer or a drainer over some boiling water). Commonly we use ikan mas, literary translated as ‘gold fish’ but don’t worry, it’s not the pet variety we’re talking about here. You can replace this fish with any kind available in your country.
Pepes Ikan Recipe for 2
2 whole fish cleaned (or alternatively fish fillets will work as well)
Banana leaves (available at your Asian food store)
For the spice paste:
1 beef stock cube
5 cloves of garlic
2 pieces of kunyit (galangal) medium size (5cm)
3 stalks of lemongrass, finely chopped
You can choose to either blend or shred these ingredients.
Sliced ingredients (to steam with the fish):
1 onion (sliced lengthwise)
1 basil leaf (wash, remove tough stems)
2 medium tomatoes (cut into pieces)
4 bay leaves
2 pieces of medium size ginger (sliced lengthwise)
Optional : If you like your food spicy, add some sliced chilies!
How to make Pepes Ikan:
- Rub the fish with salt and lime juice, leave to infuse.
- Sauté the spice paste with a little cooking oil in a pan until fragrant, add the cube of beef stock. Stir evenly, put the marinated fish in this fragrant mixture for a while and turn off the pan.
- Put the fish in the banana leaves and spread the sliced ingredients around the fish. Wrap the fish tightly, secure with a toothpick and steam for about half an hour (depending on the size, fillets take less time).
Who doesn’t like opening little presents like that? Great with steamed rice and fresh sambal ulek!