Steamed fish in banana leaves

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A few months ago a friend of mine gave me a cookbook called “The Indonesian Kitchen” and yesterday I decided to give a try. One recipe called “Pepes Ikan” or “Steamed Fish in Banana Leaves” sounded very yummy in my ears (Shut up, woman, everything sounds very yummy if you don’t or cannot cook very well!!)

Anyways, I took the risk and the result was not as bad as I was afraid of. In fact, it was almost as yummy as it sounded :wink:. This is the recipe according to that cookbook.

What you need:

  • 4 whole fish, about 350 gr. per fish
  • 80 gr. scallions (sliced)
  • 1 turmeric leaf (sliced)
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves (chopped)
  • 10 gr. lemon basil (sliced)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons  of chicken stock
  • 4 banana leaves, about 25 x 30 cm per each

Spice pasta:

  • 50 gr. shallots (peeled and sliced)
  • 10 gr. bird’s eye chilies (sliced)
  • 15 gr. ginger (peeled and sliced)
  • 50 gr. candlenuts (crushed)
  • 10 gr. turmeric  (sliced)
  • 2 stalks lemon grass (sliced)


  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Some salt to taste
  • Some white pepper to taste

What to do:

  • Gut and clean your fish thoroughly
  • Use a sharp knife to make 4 slits on both sides of your fish
  • Rub your fish all over, including slits if using whole fish, with your seasonings
  • Refrigerate your fish for about 30 minutes
  • In the meantime, prepare your spice paste: combine all ingredients in a blender and grind them into a fine paste
  • Heat oil in a saucepan
  • Add your spice paste and sauté over low heat
  • Add the chicken stock to prevent sticking
  • Add all remaining ingredients (except salt and banana leaves)
  • Sauté for about a minute, remove from heat and leave to cool to room temperature
  • Season your fish to taste with some salt
  • Place one rounded tablespoon spice mixture on the center of each banana leaf
  • Place your fish on top and cover fish with more spice paste
  • Wrap your fish tightly in banana leaf and secure with kitchen string
  • Steam them for about 10 to 15 minutes and serve your fish as you like

Give it a try yourself and bon apetit!

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