Pepesan Ikan is a well-known fish dish from Indonesia; delicately spiced and full of herbs. Delicious steamed mackerel with a homemade bumbu (Indonesian spice paste).
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First, make sure that the mackerel is cleaned, you can have this done by the fishmonger. You can also use a whole mackerel but remove the entrails.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Heat a small frying pan and roast the candlenuts in the dry frying pan for a few minutes. Transfer the roasted nuts to a small blender or mortar.
Peel the shallot and garlic cloves and roughly chop them. Peel the ginger root and roughly chop it too. Heat a little oil in the frying pan over high heat and fry the shallot, garlic, ginger and chilli for a few minutes.
Make a bumbu by puréeing the shallot, garlic, ginger, red chilli and roasted candlenuts. Then add the tamarind paste, a pinch of salt, coriander seeds, turmeric and galangal.
Spread the bumbu on the inside and outside of the mackerel. Place half a lemongrass stalk in each mackerel and then sprinkle the lime leaves over the fish.
Transfer the mackerel to a piece of aluminium foil, or banana leaf, and fold it into a parcel. Make sure not to close the parcel too tightly.
Place the parcels in a large baking dish and bake the mackerel for about half an hour. The exact cooking time will depend on the size of the mackerel.
Remove the lemongrass stalks and lime leaves, serve with, for example, rice, prawn crackers and acar (Indonesian pickle). Enjoy your dinner!
Can I also use smoked mackerel to make Pepesan Ikan?
Traditionally, Pepesan Ikan is made with fresh mackerel, but you can use smoked mackerel. This then needs to be steamed for less time than fresh mackerel.
How do I clean a whole fresh mackerel?
Carefully cut open the abdomen first, then remove all the entrails. Cut off the head behind the gill with a sharp knife. Rinse the mackerel inside and out under cold running water.