Grilled Fish in Banana Leaf

Origin: Java Island


  • 2 pc whole fishes (snapper, perch, bream, tilapia or other sort as preferred), cleaned
  • juice of 1 lime or lemon
  • 1 stem lemon grass, outer leaves discarded, finely sliced
  • 4 pc kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced or a handfull of sweet/lemon basil
  • 2 cm galangale, thinly sliced
  • 3 sheets banana leaf, about 40 x 25 cm, soften in hot water

Spice for the paste

  • 6 pc large red chillies, de-seeded, chopped
  • 5 pc shallots, chopped
  • 3 gloves garlic, chopped
  • 5 pc candlenuts, crashed or roughly chopped
  • 1 pc big size tomato, chopped
  • 2 cm ginger, peeled
  • 2 cm fresh turmeric, peeled or 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp tamarind pulp
  • 1 tsp palm sugar or sugar
  • 2 tsp salt or to taste

Grilled Fish in Banana Leaf

This is a typical Indonesian side dishes : Pepes Ikan. It is famous throughout Indonesian archipelago. Recipes and Names are slightly varied to region and custom such as Pepes in Javanese, Pais by Sundanese, in West Sumatra called Palai and many others. However they're all have similarity: It is fish which rubbed with spice paste/mixture, wrapped in banana leaf, steamed and then grilled in a charcoal or baked on the oven. The combination between complete spices blends with banana leaf's aroma hhhhhmmmmm what an Asian temptation ha ha 😉
Note: Use the fresh fish to get the best result. When it is not obtainable you can also take frozen fish but make sure the fish is defrosted properly.
Take aluminium foil to wrap the fish, if banana leaf is not available. If preferred use fish fillets instead a whole fish, especially for you who don't like struggling with fish bones ;-).


  • Clean the fish mix with salt and lime juice. Keep aside for 15 minutes. Rinse under cold water and pat dry with kitchen paper. Keep aside.
  • Blend all ingredients for the paste in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add lemon grass, kaffir-lime or lemon basil leaves and galangale. Stir to mix.
  • Adjust the seasoning, add salt or sugar if necessary. Divide the mixture into 2.
  • If you use the fresh banan leaf, soak the banana leaf in hot water about 10 minutes until the leaves are getting soft and change color slightly to prevent tearing/leaking. Wipe it dry with a paper towel or a kitchen tissue to remove the dirt.
  • Put about 2 tbsp spice paste on the middle of banana leaf, put the fish on it.
  • Then smear the paste on the other side of the fish includes the cavity.
  • Fold up the banana leaf to enclose the fish (see fotos), secure the parcel with toothpick or staples.
  • Folding banana leaf, step 2.
  • Folding banana leaf, step 3.
  • Steam the parcel over a covered steamer until the fish is cooked (takes about 30 minutes).
  • Grill on the charcoal or bake in the oven to 400°F (200°C). Bake the fish for about 20-25 minutes until the banana leaf turn to brown. Serve hot in banana leaf
Keyword fish in banana leaf, grilled fish, Indonesian

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