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Ikan Bakar: Grilled Fish with Spicy Sambal Sauce

In the heart of Indonesia’s diverse culinary tradition lies Ikan Bakar, a dish that perfectly showcases the country’s love for seafood and spicy flavors. This tantalizing grilled fish, dressed in a robust sambal sauce, is a popular choice at both street food stalls and high-end restaurants. With each bite, you get a taste of the sea, the smoky char of the grill, and the zing of the spices. This article will guide you on a culinary journey to recreate this authentic Indonesian delicacy at home.

Ikan Bakar: Grilled Fish with Spicy Sambal Sauce


  • 1 whole fish, cleaned and scored
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon of tamarind juice
  • Salt to taste
  • For the sambal sauce:
  • 5 red chillies, deseeded
  • 3 shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of shrimp paste
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar

Cooking Steps

  • Marinate the fish with lemongrass, tamarind juice, and salt. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes to absorb the flavors.
  • While the fish is marinating, prepare the sambal sauce. Blend the chillies, shallots, garlic, shrimp paste, and sugar in a food processor until you get a smooth paste.
  • Preheat your grill. Cook the fish on the grill, turning it occasionally, until it’s nicely charred and cooked through. This should take around 15 to 20 minutes.
  • While the fish is grilling, cook the sambal sauce in a pan until it’s fragrant and the color has darkened. Set it aside.
  • Once the fish is cooked, serve it with the sambal sauce. Your Ikan Bakar is ready to be enjoyed!

In conclusion, Ikan Bakar is an enticing dish that perfectly captures the essence of Indonesian cuisine. When preparing this dish, the freshness of the fish is paramount. Choose a fish that’s firm and has a fresh, sea-like smell. The sambal sauce is the soul of Ikan Bakar, so don’t be shy with the spices. However, adjust the quantity of chillies according to your heat tolerance. With the right ingredients and a bit of patience, you can recreate this Indonesian classic at home, and treat your taste buds to a truly exotic feast.

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