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Recipe: Ikan Panggang/Ikan Bakar (Grilled Fish with Banana Leaves)
1 lb fish fillet or whole fish (for example: red snapper)
Grilled Fish Sambal:
6 oz. fresh red chilies, deseeded and cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon toasted belacan (Malaysian shrimp paste)
4 oz shallots
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar, or to taste
1/2 lime or 1 calamansi lime (limau kasturi), extract the juice
2 lemongrass, cut into thin slices
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
4 tablespoons oil
Sambal Belacan and Sliced Shallots Condiment:
3 fresh red chilies, deseeded
2 bird’s eye chilies, deseeded
1 teaspoon of toasted belacan
2 shallots, thinly sliced
Sugar to taste
Salt to taste
8 tablespoons of water + tamarind pulp (size of a small ping pong ball)
Grilled Fish Sambal
Prepare the sambal by grinding chilies, shallots, belacan and lemongrass in a food processor. Make sure the sambal paste is well blended and smooth.
Heat up a wok and “tumis” (stir-fry) the sambal paste until aromatic or when the oil separates from the sambal paste. Add the seasonings: salt, sugar, and fish sauce and do a quick stir, dish out and set aside.
Sambal Belacan and Sliced Shallots Condiment
Soak the tamarind pulp with water for 15 minutes and extract the juice. In a mortar and pestle or food processor, pound/blend the red chilies, bird’s eye chilies, and toasted belacan. Add tamarind juice, sugar, salt, and sliced shallots to the sambal. Stir well and set aside.
Grilling the Fish
Lay a few sheets of banana leaves and grease the surface of the banana leaves with some oil. Lay the fish fillet on top of the banana leaves and add about 2 – 3 tablespoons of sambal on top of the fish. Spread the sambal evenly. Place the fish on top of the grill (upper rack with indirect heat) and cover the grill. Wait for 8 minutes or so (depending on the heat) and flip the fish over to the other side. Add 2 – 3 more tablespoons of sambal on the other side of the fish. Cook for another 8 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Transfer the fish and the banana leaves to the lower rack and grill for a couple of minutes with direct heat, or when you smell the sweet aroma of burnt banana leaves. Transfer out and serve immediately with sambal belacan and sliced shallots condiment.