April 16, 2010

Making Rajang

Gunung Agung

Today, we went for a ride in beautiful Seraya and on our way back we stopped to see our favorite fisherman in Ujung.

 He was back with a great catch, fish barely out of the water, we bought some on the spot and decided to make Rajang.

Rajang, also known as Pepes Ikan in the rest of Indonesia, is a dish of fish mixed with a spice paste redolent of galangal, turmeric, chilies and tamarind wrapped in banana leaves and grilled over coconut coals.

wrapping the parcels

parcel ready to be grilled

I absolutely adore the taste layers of the spice paste: the sweet, sour, hot and clean lemony flavors of the tamarind, lemongrass and chilies mixed with the balsamic, camphor like haunting fragrance of the galangal and kencur; the whole balanced by the grounding sweet taste of fresh turmeric.
It is simply addictive and I have been known to greedily splurge on all the bumbu when no one is watching (but someone is always watching...)


Spice paste for Rajang

serve 4

2 lbs of very fresh, firm fish whole, or in fillets
Banana leaves for wrapping, substitute parchment paper for baking or aluminium foil for grilling.
Fresh Daun Salam, substitute fresh Bay leaves or omit altogether

Spice paste (bumbu):

10 cloves garlic, chopped finely
15 shallots, sliced finely
3 Tbsp ginger, chopped finely
3 Tbsp galangal, chopped finely
2 Tbsp lesser galangal, finely chopped
2 tsp kencur, chopped finely
2 tsp fresh turmeric, chopped finely
2 lemongrass stalks, soft part, very finely sliced
3 candlenuts, chopped finely
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
2 Tbsp tamarind pulp, soaked in a little water to soften, seeds removed
10 bird's eye chilies, sliced finely
2 Tbsp Palm sugar, chopped
1 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp Coconut oil or light vegetable oil

fresh turmeric

Cut the fish in large pieces and set aside.
Place all the bumbu ingredients and salt in a large bowl, mix together with your hand, squeezing a little, add the oil. Taste, adjust the salt or seasonings if needed.
Rub the fish pieces with the paste.
Cut the banana leaves into pieces 4inx4in. On each piece of banana leaf, place a salam leaf (or fresh bay leaf) and 2 pieces of fish and some bumbu, wrap as described in the pictures above.
Grill for 10 minutes, test one parcel to see if it's cooked. Serve with steamed rice


  1. This looks great I love how the new photos came out. This is excellent work.

  2. Thanks a lot whoever you are! :)


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