ikan pepes

Pepes means cooking with banana leaves as wrapper. This method of cooking is particularly popular with fish in Indonesia. The fish with marinated with spices, wrapped in banana leaves and then steamed and/or grilled.  Most Indonesian used Carp fish for pepes. However, pepes is not limited to only fish. Nowadays, people used seafood, tofu, chicken and meat for pepes as well. I used thread fin fish for pepes in this recipe. I enjoy the flavor that imparts from grilling the ikan pepes in banana leaves.

What you will need:
  • 2 whole fishes - cleaned and scaled (you can use tuna or whatever you like)
  • 4 red chilis
  • 4 fresh basil leaves
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 stalk of chopped spring onions
  • 3-4 banana leaves for wrapping
  • Toothpicks to secure the end
  • Ground spices:
  • 10 red chilis
  • 2 tsp of turmeric powder
  • 6 shallots
  • 4 candlenuts
  • salt to season
  • 2 tbsp of oil
  1. Marinate the fishes with the ground spices for at least 1 hour or overnight if you prepare ahead of time
  2. Prepare the banana leaves by cleaning with damp cloth. Make sure the leaves are big enough to wrap the fish, probably about 13" square each (30x30 cm). If you have bigger fish, you may need bigger leaf. The fish will be in the middle, so make sure you have enough room to fold all the four sides of the leaf over later on.
  3. Place the marinated fish in the middle of the leaf, place the basil, spring onions, chilis and bay leaves on top of the fish. Fold two sides of the leaf over the fish. Then follow by the top and secure it with 1-2 toothpicks, repeat with the bottom as shown in the photo above
  4. Get a steamer ready and place the fish in the steamer and steam for about 30-45 minutes, depending on how big of a fish. You may need to take a peek on the fish to make sure it's cook
  5. Once the fish is steamed. Prepare a grill. Grill the fish for about 5 minutes each side. It's okay for the banana leaf to be slightly burned
  6. It may look a bit "messy" with the marinate sauces all over when you open up the leaf ready to chow, and that's okay. Serve with rice so you can have some of the sauces from the marinate with your rice. Yummy!
If you get a whole fish, you can always have it cleaned and gutted for you.

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