Pepes is the Indonesian dish of any meat, mostly seafood, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. I usually grilled the pepes, the burnt banana leaves just give it a better texture. Any kind of fish can be used, mackerel is always a better choice since the flesh flaked just nicely after grilling.
I have to confess that I hate grilling. Our grill is the old fashioned one with old fashioned charcoal that almost impossibly to light up without a dash of gasoline. Even we would have to fan it using our old fashioned bamboo fan and the charcoal would fly and it is a huge mess. I cheat by grilling this on a grill pan on stove top burner.
This is very easy. Just blend the spices in a blender and smeared the fish with blended spices. Wrap each with banana leaves and fasten the ends with toothpicks. Heat the grill pan and arrange them on top. Put some weight on top so that the fish would be cooked evenly.
Serve these with coconut rice or nasi lemak.
Grilled fish in banana leaves, ikan pepes
1 kg mackerel
8 shallots (50 g)
3 cloves garlic
10 red chili (50 g)
2 stalks lemongrass
2 cm galangal (30 g)
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cm fresh turmeric
Combine shallots, garlic, candlenut, chili, lemongrass, galangal, coriander seeds, fresh turmeric, salt and sugar in a blender.
Add 1/2 cup of water if necessary. Blend till fine paste.
Combine spice paste and fish in a mixing bowl.
Let marinade for 15-30 minutes.
Wrap fish individually in banana leaves and secure ends with toothpick.
Grill on preheated grill pan for 10 minutes each side.
Serve immediately with steamed rice and pickled cucumber and shallot.
Please click more for step-by-step shots
I love my dried shrimp sambal. It is me and my mother’s favorite. We could have just the dried shrimp sambal with plain steamed rice. Originally intended for one of the toppings of steamed yam cake, it refrigerates well for a couple of days and doesn’t need to be reheated. A little pinch goes a long way. But I usually like to add a lot more than a pinch to my rice. It is pungent, sweet, salty and spicy. I have this wild idea in my head how it would be a great ingredient for sushi roll. It could work. And toast. Toast would be good too.
Dried Shrimp Sambal, Sambal Hebi
150 g dried shrimp, ground finely
50 g red chilies
3 cloves garlic
4 tbsp sugar
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
Blend chilies, shallots, garlic, sugar, lime juice and 1/4 cup water in a blender till fine.
Heat cooking oil in a wok. Add chili paste and quickly stir-fry until it boils and turns darker.
Add dried shrimp and stir-fry for another 5 minutes.
Season with soy sauce and cook for another 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and serve with steamed rice and other dishes.
Indonesian version of salad is the one happily drenched with peanut sauce. The sauce should be thick, crunchy, sweet and spicy. There are basically more than ten type of salad using peanut sauce, so even if they all look and sound the same, they taste differently, according to some picky eaters.
This is the famous gado-gado salad, one which can be found in many Indonesian restaurant here and abroad. This post is a re-post from the old one I did back in 2008 when food blogging was naive.
After the new addition in our family, I find less and less time to cook and blog as I used to, with the days of planning and props and shopping, so I do apologize for the lack of styling and propping and the messy kitchen. I tried to cook as fast as I can between baby’s screaming and even less time too take pictures.
The food photography of the end product includes someone standing in the garden (which thankfully, next to the kitchen) and hold the plate. Afterwards we eat in the garden right then and there. No more running around gathering props. Those days are pretty much over. And I am not sure if they are ever coming back. I am still doing the step-by-step images but for those who aren’t interested and would rather get to the recipe straight away, I have included the recipe before the page break. So if you aren’t going to be too happy to load the 20+ images of step by step, please don’t click on the “read more”.
Indonesian Gado Gado Salad
2 cloves garlic
10 g bird's eye chili (green chili)
20 g gula melaka
1/2 tbsp salt
100 g peanuts, deep-fried or roasted
1/2 tbsp kecap manis
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 cup water
200 g cabbage, sliced thinly
75 g bean sprouts, blanched briefly
250 g tofu, fried till golden and cut into cubes
1 medium cucumber, quartered and cut into 1/2 cm thickness
2 stalk Chinese celery, chopped finely
2 spring onion, chopped finely
10 g red and white crackers, deep-fried
To make the sauce
Mix garlic, chili, gula melaka, salt and peanut in a food processor and grind coarsely.
Add lime and kecap manis, mix well.
Gradually add water and stirring at the same time, to a desired thickness.
Combine all salad ingredients in a big mixing bowl or individual plater.
Add sauce and serve immediately.
I love salted fish. It is pungent and it is really you-love-it-or-you-don’t kinda food ingredients. It is also considered as the poor man’s dish. Back in the days, people with not much money can only afford seafood this way. With only a small piece, a whole family could down their meals satisfactorily. We have some really good home-cooked meals with these salted fish. When shop for salted fish, look for the clean looking piece. Thick and clean would be what I would go for. Also get the one that doesn’t smell too bad. One of the best dishes to cook salted fish with is bean sprouts stir-fry. Easy and quick.
Prep the ingredients, fresh bean sprouts, slices of chili, salted fish and minced garlic. I have the pet peeve of eating bean sprouts with the tails on. I have to get rid of them. I just have to.
I am a kaya snob. We have been spoiled by our grandmothers, aunties and mothers that we only enjoy homemade kaya. Every family has their own version of homemade kaya, some thick, some runny, some yellow, some brown caramel-ish, some pandan green-ish.
It is strange that kaya is only popular on this side of island. My husband from Java has never tried it before until he moved here. I asked him what they have with their toast. He looked at me with a blank face. He doesn’t get it.
Our method of making kaya results in runny, yellow-to-brown hue spread, minus the grain. I remembered my kaya making sessions to be painful ones. I was on my feet for hours only to see the whole batch gone to the bin. It was better that way than to get the frown from people who were coming over for breakfast. When I finally got it right, it was very rewarding to see every drop gone in the matter of hours. The downside is that I am becoming more of a snob. Our kaya needs to be smoothly grainless and almost transparent, a little on the yellow-ish brown color. Without refrigeration, the spread needs to be consumed within days.
Only three ingredients are needed. Egg yolks, coconut milk and castor sugar. The quality of the kaya depends on the quality of coconut milk and egg yolks. The more intense colored yolks will result in beautiful golden colored kaya. The red yolks are usually from organic egg. The coconut milk used usually are from freshly squeezed coconut. Prepackaged coconut milk can be used as substitute. I have no experience using powdered instant form of coconut milk, so I can’t say much about it.
Combine them all in a mixing bowl.