(Updated with new photos on May 28, 2012)
A true Malay classic, ikan panggang/ikan bakar (grilled fish with banana leaves) is very popular in Malaysia. Loaded with dollops of sambal or spice paste, the fish is grilled with banana leaves over charcoal fire.
The smell of burnt banana leaves imparts the fish with a smoky flavor and the sambal infuses the fish fillet with layers upon layers of spicy taste.
Ikan Panggang/Ikan Bakar is usually served with sambal belacan with sliced shallots. I love the sambal as it adds that extra kick to this wonderful street food, found throughout Malaysia.
The key ingredient of ikan panggang/ikan bakar is the sambal. I used chilies, shallots, lemongrass, etc., and a little bit of belacan as the ingredients. For the fish, stingray wings/skate wings are ideal, but I substituted it with a sole fillet (you can also use any flat fish).
Preparation might take some time as you will need to pound the sambal with a mortar or pestle (traditionally) or you can just use a food processor. As soon as the fish is grilled and the inviting aroma of the burnt banana leaves and the fish fills the air, you will realize that the end result is well worth the effort.