Pepes Ikan: Grilled fish in banana leaves

Posted: 08 March 2017 Category: Blog, News

An accomplished cookbook author and restaurateur, UFF Founder & Director Janet DeNeefe has enjoyed a love affair with Indonesian food spanning more than 30 years. In this series, we share recipes from her celebrated cookbook, Bali: The Food of My Island Home. First published in 2011, the book has been reprinted by popular demand and will be available to purchase at the UFF17. Dig in! 

“What would the Balinese have done without banana leaves? Pliable and porous, they are perfect for grilling and steaming as they retain natural flavours while imparting their own subtle aroma.

Fragrant gingers, chilli and fresh fish are wrapped together and grilled over hot, coconut coals. The result is a deliciously golden and healthy meal. Try parchment paper if banana leaves are not available and barbeque your fish or grill in the oven in the absence of hot coconut coals” – Janet DeNeefe.



  •  600 gms.(18oz.) fish
  • banana leaves
  • 4 shredded lime leaves
  • salam leaves for each parcel


  •  6 garlic
  • 3 shallot
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3 candlenut
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass
  • 1/4 tsp shrimp paste
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp tamarind 3 large red chilli
  • 2-4 small chilli
  • 3 tbs fresh galangal
  • 1 tbs fresh turmeric 2 tsp ginger
  • 3 tsp palm sugar
  • 3 tbs oil


Grind the spices with some water if necessary in a mortar and pestle or blend in the container of a food processor until you have a fragrant, golden yellow paste, flecked with chilli and tomato skin.

Chop the fish into fat chunks, roughly 4cm x 4cm or leave whole if you prefer. Shred the lime leaves. Mix thoroughly with the spice paste, oil and fish. Cut the banana leaves into rectangles roughly the size of a standard envelope. Wrap the fish in one or two layers of banana leaves, with a salam leaf underneath. Roll over and secure the ends with a toothpick or tie with string.

Grill, steam or barbecue the fish for five minutes or until cooked. Serve with steamed rice and kangkung pelecing.

Serves 4-8.