Ikan Bakar (Baked Butterfish Wrapped in Banana Leaf)

A hot, sour and spicy marinade will fill the room with a wonderful fragrance as you open up Mark Reids butterfish parcels at the table
Ikan Bakar (Baked Butterfish Wrapped in Banana Leaf)
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Effort: medium


For the marinade

  • 75 g shrimp paste
  • 200 g onions
  • 125 g garlic
  • 125 g red chillies
  • 60 g lemongrass
  • 25 g dried chillies, re-hydrated in warm water
  • 25 g caster sugar

For the tamarind water

  • 600 ml water
  • 50 g tamarind paste

For the sauce

  • 125 g red chillies, seeds removed and sliced
  • 1 stalks lemongrass, finely shredded
  • 100 g shrimp paste
  • 10 g salt, (optional)
  • 100 ml lemon juice

For the parcels

  • 1-2 banana leaves
  • 6 portions butterfish
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and finely sliced
  • 3 limes, cut into wedges


1. For the marinade: mince together all the ingredients to a fine paste. This mix will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

2. For the tamarind water: mix the paste and the water together in a pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Pass through a semi-fine chinoise.

3. For the sauce: return the strained tamarind water to the pan with the chilli, lemon grass, shrimp paste and salt. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat leave to cool completely before stirring in the lemon juice.

4. For the parcels: preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6.

5. Run the banana leaf slowly over a naked flame on both sides, (if using electric, run over the hob). This will make the leaf pliable and easy to use. Cut into 6 strips large enough to wrap the fish in.

6. Place the pieces of fish in the middle of each leaf and season with pepper only (there will be enough salt from the shrimp paste). Spread some of the marinade on the top. Wrap the fish, bringing the sides together, turn in the ends and thread a cocktail stick through each end.

7. Sear the parcels on both sides on a hot griddle, then transfer to the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes.

8. Remove the sticks and open the parcels. Arrange on a plate and serve with a pot of the warmed sauce. Garnish with some finely sliced cucumber and lime wedges.

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