Ikan Bakar grill fish tradition dish of Indonesia

Indonesia: Ikan bakar are various kinds of popular Maritime Southeast Asian dishes, prepared with charcoal-grilled fish or other forms of seafood, notable in Indonesian and Malaysian cuisines. Ikan bakar literally means “burned fish” in Malay and Indonesian. The barbecued fish is one of the classic Indonesian dish. Grilling is one of the oldest and earliest cooking methods to prepare fish. Freshwater fish and seafood are among the main source of protein intake for the inhabitants of the archipelago. Naturally, this method is immensely popular and quite widespread in the maritime realm of Malay-Indonesian archipelago. Thus the grilled-barbecued fish is regarded as one of the classic Indonesian dishes.

As an archipelagic nation, ikan bakar is very popular in Indonesia, commonly found in many places; from an Acehnese beach right down to a restaurant perched over Kupang’s harbour in East Nusa Tenggara, to the center of Jakarta’s business district. Various specific versions exist, including a Sundanese ikan bakar Cianjur, which is mainly grilled freshwater fish, such as carp and gourami, and Balinese ikan bakar Jimbaran, freshly grilled seafood fish in warungs clustered near Jimbaran beach and fishmarket in Bali.

The barbecued seafood however, is especially popular in the eastern region of Indonesia; Sulawesi and Maluku where most of the people work as fishermen, and both areas have a vast sea which brings them different kinds of seafood. Usually, the fish is marinated with mixture of spice pastes, and sometimes with belacan or kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) and then grilled; sometimes protected with a sheet of banana leaf placed between the seafood and grilled to avoid the fish being stuck to the grill and broken to pieces.

The fish is usually marinated with a mixture of sweet soy sauce and coconut oil or margarine, applied with a brush during grilling. The spice mixture may vary among regions and places, but usually it consists of a combination of ground shallots, garlic, chili pepper, coriander, tamarind juice, candlenut, turmeric, galangal and salt. In Java and most of Indonesia, ikan bakar usually tastes rather sweet because the generous amount of sweet soy sauce either as marinade or dipping sauce. It is commonly consumed with steamed rice and the sweet sticky soy sauce poured over finely chopped green chilies and shallots. The ikan bakar of Minangkabau (Padang), most of Sumatra and also Malay peninsula, is usually spicier and yellow-reddish in colour because the generous amount of chili pepper, turmeric and other spices, and the absence of sweet soy sauce.

Ikan bakar is usually served with sambal belacan (chili with shrimp paste) or sambal kecap (sliced chili and shallot in sweet soy sauce) as dipping sauce or condiment and slices of lemon as garnish. The East Indonesian Manado and Maluku ikan bakar usually uses rica-rica, dabu-dabu or colo-colo condiment.

The many variants of ikan bakar differ from the recipes of marinate spices, dipping sauces or sambals, to the species of fishes being grilled. Almost any kind of fish and seafood can be made into ikan bakar, the most popular are freshwater gourami, patin (pangasius) and ikan mas (carp), to seafood tongkol or cakalang (skipjack tuna), bawal (pomfret), tenggiri (wahoo), kuwe (trevally), baronang (rabbitfish), kerapu (garoupa), kakap merah (red snapper), and pari (stingray). Some of the popular forms of seafood besides fish include sotong (squid), and udang (shrimp).

The tradition of ikan bakar enjoyed on a beach is a popular culinary itinerary during a visit to popular Indonesian tourism destinations; such as Jimbaran beach in Bali, Losari beach in Makassar, and Muara Karang harbour in Jakarta. In Indonesia, ikan bakar might be consumed any day throughout the year. However, in recent years, barbecuing fish and grilling corn cobs has grown to become a tradition on celebrating New Year’s Eve. Ikan bakar and jagung bakar has become a New Year’s barbecue party essential among Indonesians.

Source: Wikipedia & Photo by: Supplied & Sakura