Welcome to ‘Cook & Mix’, a new column from NOW! Bali’s Home Life series. In this column we share cooking recipes to try and cocktail mixes to shake up! For our cooking recipes we will focus on Balinese and Indonesian dishes to try.

This first recipe comes from Petty Elliott, an accomplished cookbook writer and now guest chef to many prestigious dining events around the world. Petty’s passion is in exploring seasonal, modern Indonesian cuisine.

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Pepes Ikan Kakap Woku: Grilled Spiced Red Snapper Fillet in a Banana Leaf

Pepes Ikan Recipe - Petty Elliott 1
Photo courtesy of Petty Elliott

This dish is not as difficult to master as you think. If you don’t have to time to barbeque, simply put the fish in the oven or steamer and cook for around 10-12 minutes, or steam for 10-12 minutes. This recipe is not spicy at all. You can use bird’s eye chillies, known as cabe rawit, to make it spicier if you prefer. Serve with steamed rice and green vegetables or simply with simple mixed salad.


Serves 4

For the red snapper:
• 4 red snapper fillets, skinless and boneless, 150gr-200gr each
Vegetarians: you can replace the snapper with tofu or tempe!
• Juice of 2 limes
• 1 teaspoon salt
• Banana leaves 35cm in length and 25cm in width (or otherwise, depending on the size of the fish)

For the chilli and herb paste:

• 5 curly chillies, chopped roughly
• 10gr ginger (peeled, chopped roughly), 10gr turmeric (peeled), 5cm galangal (peeled) 75gr (peeled), 2 cloves of garlic (peeled)
• 2 stalks of lemongrass, roughly chopped, using only the young/white part
• 4 kaffir lime leaves
• 4 tablespoons ground almond or kacang kanari, a local wild almond
• Bunch of fresh basil or kemangi, a local basil
• 2 spring onions, roughly chopped
• 2 tablespoon cooking oil

Pepes Ikan Recipe - Petty Elliott 2
Photo courtesy of Petty Elliott


• Put the chillies, ginger, shallots, garlic, galangal and turmeric into a food processor or chopper and process until the mixture becomes a paste.
• Mix the paste with chopped lemongrass, spring onions, ground almonds and basil.
• Add the oil, season with salt and set aside.
• Prepare the banana leaves.
• Season the fish with salt and lime.
• Scoop a small amount of paste onto each banana leaf stack. Place a fillet on each leaf stack, topping it with the remaining paste.

• Fold the banana leaves around the fillets (see photos), securing both ends with toothpicks.
• Cooked in the pre-heat oven with 180oC for 10-12 minutes or steam depends on the thickness of the fish.

Cook’s Note:

How to prepare the banana leaves

You can buy banana leaves from traditional markets or certain supermarkets. The leaves must be wiped, cleaned and softened first. The latter you can do by leaving them in the sun for 10 minutes or putting them in a big bowl or pan of hot water for five minutes before using it to wrap the fish.

Chef Petty Elliott

Chef Petty Elliott


NOW Bali Editorial Team

NOW Bali Editorial Team

This article has been written or uploaded by NOW! Bali's in-house editorial team.