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Ikan Bakar (Grilled Fish)

Posting Date: 07/20/16

Ikan Bakar (Grilled Fish)

Ikan Bakar (Grilled Fish) is one of many Indonesian fish dishes. Being an island country with 13,000 islands, fish and shrimp makes their way to Indonesian food. Whole white flesh fish is normally used for cooking in Indonesia. One cooking method for fish is grilling it using charcoal. Other methods are frying and boiling it. Since Indonesia also produces many spices, the fish is normally marinated in spices before being grilled or cooked. The spices used can vary from one region to another. The fish is normally served with rice and fresh vegetables, such as cabbage, tomato, lettuce, and cucumber. The vegetables are served with sambal terasi (chili sauce with shrimp paste) on the side. Growing up, my mom also made dipping sauce for the fish. She made it with sweet soy sauce and sliced Thai chili pepper. I am sharing my mom's recipe here and thus, the spices used might be different than other recipes.

As mentioned before, white flesh fish is normally used in Indonesia. You can use any white fish you like. Before you marinate the fish, make sure you score it so that the spices can penetrate it and make it more flavorful.

This recipe serves 4 people


  • 2 whole white flesh fishes, cleaned and scored both sides of the fish. Scoring the fish before marinating it will help the marinade to penetrate it.
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • For marinade: 6 small shallots or 2 big shallots, halved. In my Asian stores, the shallots sold are normally smaller size than the ones I find in the regular grocery stores. So, adjust the amount of the shallots used based on the size.
  • For marinade: 6 cloves of garlic, halved
  • For marinade: 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • For marinade: 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • For marinade: 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • For marinade: 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • For grilling: vegetable oil
  • For basting: 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • For basting: 1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce
  • For dipping sauce: 4 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
  • For dipping sauce: 2 Thai chili peppers, sliced
  • Optional: lime wedges to serve on the side


  1. Place fishes on container. Pour juice of limes all over the fishes including where the fishes are scored.
  2. Add shallots, garlic, turmeric powder, coriander powder, vegetable oil, and salt into food processor. Process them until they become smooth paste.
  3. Spread spice paste on the fishes making sure it gets to the scoring areas of the fish. Set it aside in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  4. When you are ready to grill the fishes, combine melted butter with sweet soy sauce.
  5. Turn on your grill. Brush both sides of the fish with vegetable oil. This will prevent the fish from sticking. Place the fishes on the grill. Cook on 1 side until almost done. Flip it to the other side and cook it until almost done. Once it is almost done, brush it with basting mixture of butter and sweet soy sauce and flip it to the other side. Let that side cook until done. Brush the top side with basting mixture and flip it, so that side can finish cooking. Take it out of the grill once it finishes cooking.
  6. Combine 4 tablespoons sweet soy sauce with sliced Thai chili pepper in a small bowl.
  7. Serve the fishes with the dipping sauce and lime wedges.

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