Ikan Pepes (Steamed Curry Fish in Banana Leaves)

The finale: Part 3 of our Bali cooking class escapades. White fish fillets, blanketed in a thick, spice paste, and swaddled in banana leaves are steamed to retain maximum moisture. We used seabass, but feel free to use premium fish like barramundi or grouper instead.

Ingredients (feeds 1):
150 white snapper fillet, sliced into sashimi-thick pieces
2 tbsp bumbu ikan paste (recipe below)
2 tbsp yellow rempah (recipe below)
2 cm length lemongrass, bruised
4 pieces basil leaves
1 piece salam leaf
1 piece kaffir lime leaf
2 slices tomato
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp coconut milk
2 pieces banana leaves
1 tbsp canola oil

Bumbu Ikan (pounded into a thick paste):
50 grams galangal, sliced
100 grams ginger, sliced
100 grams fresh tumeric, sliced
30 grams ginger, sliced
100 grams lemongrass, sliced
80 grams garlic, minced
50 grams shallot, minced
10 grams red chilli, seeded and minced
5 grams belachan
5 grams palm sugar
5 grams chilli padi, sliced
30 grams coriander seeds
Dash of ground white pepper

Rempah (pound all into a yellow paste):
200 gram shallots, sliced
60 grams garlic, sliced
20 grams fresh tumeric, sliced
10 grams galangal, sliced
10 grams ginger, sliced
1 tbsp coriander seeds, or powder

1) Fry bumbu ikan paste in oil until dry and toasty, about 7 minutes. Leave to cool. Do the same with the yellow rempah.

2) Mix fillets with cooled bumbu paste, rempah, oyster sauce, coconut milk, and basil leaves.

3) Place fish fillets on a mound, topped with tomatoes, salam leaves, kaffir lime leaves, and lemongrass.

4) Wrap and secure with toothpicks.

5) Steam for 10-15 minutes.

6) Serve with additional sliced chillis, basil leaves and crackers.

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