Pepesan Ikan


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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Pepesan Ikan
Veronique van Ohmydish

Made by Véronique

Published at 2021-09-09, this recipe is for 2 people and takes 50 minutes.

Founder of Ohmydish (established 2014). Would happily spend her entire day in the kitchen. Previously worked in the hospitality industry as an independent chef and is ready and willing to help you gain confidence in the kitchen. With her easy-to-follow recipes, helpful tips, and cooking knowledge, you will be making the very tastiest dishes yourself in no time! Véronique's recipes are intended for everyone, from beginners to advanced home cooks.

Updated at: 12-03-2022

50 minutes 2 people Main course
Pepesan Ikan


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  • 2 fresh mackerel
  • 1 large shallot
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 5 candlenuts (kemiri nuts)
  • 3 cm fresh ginger root
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste (assam)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 4 lime leaves
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground galangal
  • a small splash of sunflower oil
Pepesan Ikan ingredients
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Kitchen equipment

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  • oven
  • large baking dish
  • small frying pan
  • wooden spoon
  • small blender or mortar
  • chopping board & chef's knife
  • aluminium foil or banana leaves

Pepesan Ikan

50 minutes 2 people Main course

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Preparation – 15 minutes

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.

Pepesan Ikan
Pepesan Ikan

Finish the Pepesan Ikan – 35 minutes

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!

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Pepesan Ikan: frequently asked questions

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.