That’s a Wrap – and a recipe for Ikan Bakar (Balinese Grilled Fish)

I’m back to work in the day job from tomorrow and have to admit to having done not very much at all over the last week – apart from reading books and faffing about in the pool, that is.

Aside from not logging into the day job, things were otherwise back to normal. Hubby went off to his volunteer job, Ms T went off to work, and we did our 5km walk each morning along the beach path – even in the rain one morning.

Yesterday we did our usual shop at the Farmer’s Market – although a number of our regular stallholders were on holidays – and came home with some beautiful fresh figs that we enjoyed with blue cheese and prosciutto as part of a lunchtime platter. I’m loving the baby cucumbers, mini apple cucumbers and radishes at the moment – and am eating them like apples.

And last night we visited the new home of old Sydney friends in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. They’ve built on land that used to be a dairy farm a few kilometres out of town and wake up to this stunning view each day.

Despite being the middle of summer, they have no need for air-conditioning as they’ve designed the home to make use of the breezes. Besides, closing up would mean missing out on sunsets like these.

New Year’s Eve

Although it was tempting to head down to Mooloolaba, the reminder that all the roads were closed and the prospect of 40,000 people converging on the beach was just a tad too much for me. Instead, we visited the fish co-op and bought a whole snapper to grill – Balinese style – on the barbecue. We ate outside, put some music on and opened some bubbles. It was a fitting way to see out the year.

While I didn’t stay up until 2019, I did, however, last until 9pm – although was awake at midnight at the thud of the fireworks from Mooloolaba Beach…does that count?

Ikan Bakar – Balinese Grilled Fish

We’ve been having a few Bali cravings of late so decided to channel the barbecued fish in Jimbaran, Tanah Lot and some of those other beachside seafood warungs. Sure, they’re touristy, but there’s really something about sitting on the beach with your feet in the sand watching a Balinese sunset and smelling the fragrance of Bali wafting out from the grill.

Naturally, it’s not quite the same in South-East Queensland, although at this time of the year the humidity is definitely similar to that of a Bali night. The taste of this, though, took us back. As an added bonus, it’s really quite healthy.

The key to the Balinese flavour is in the spice mix or Base genep. This one is an excellent all-purpose paste and, despite the list of ingredients, is actually quite therapeutic to make – especially if you do so with a wine glass close by.

In a mortar and pestle grind 5 candlenuts, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, 2 cloves and ½ teaspoon sesame seeds into a powder.

At this point you can either transfer the spice powder along with:

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 5 red shallots, roughly chopped
  • 3 small red chillies, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh turmeric
  • 2 stalks lemongrass – the white part only
  • 5 tablespoons chopped galangal
  • 2 tablespoons chopped ginger
  • ½ teaspoon belacan or shrimp paste
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

into a food processor – I use the nutribullet – and add it all to the mortar and continue to pound it all into a smooth paste. (If you go with the food processor option you might need to add a splash of water to get it all moving about.)

Pour it into a jar until you’re ready to use it.

Tomato sambal and base genep

To prepare the fish pat dry and then slash it quite deeply with a sharp knife diagonally on both sides. Rub the spice paste over each side, making sure that you get into the slashes, and pop it back in the fridge for an hour.

I used that hour to make spicy tomato sambal that we tossed through some blanched green beans – that’s it in the pic above – and a sambal matah, a freshly chopped sambal. I’ll pop the recipes for these up on Brookford Kitchen Diaries in case you’re interested.

As for cooking the fish? We did it on the barbecue in one of those things made for barbecuing fish – just take care to oil it well or the yummy crunchy skin will stick to it. How long you cook it for depends on your barbecue, the weight of the fish and so many other variables. We had a medium sized snapper and grilled it for about 5 minutes on each side.

Just before it’s done, you can brush it with a glaze of ¼ cup (60 ml) kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), 2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil, and a squeeze of lime juice. This is, however, optional.

Serve with steamed rice, some green veggies – we used green beans – sambal and fresh lime.

As for the rest of the spice paste? We had used some during the week as a base for nasi goreng, and we’ll be using the rest in a chicken curry this week.

That was my week…how was yours? 


Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

21 thoughts

  1. Talk about on the same page, I pulled out my Balinese cookbook this weekend and I am planning to make some paste this week for a chicken curry and my favourite coconut, carrot and bean vegetable dish. It sure is the weather for it.

    1. It certainly is… We’re using the rest of the paste in a chicken curry this week – or maybe a chicken biryani – Bali meets Bollywood?​

  2. Oh yum that fish sounds delish! I am not a fan of NYE and will do anything to avoid the crowds. We spent it with our friends who are like family – our friend is mad about his barbecue and Santa got him a rotisserie for Christmas so we had barbecued rotisserie chicken – so good! We took the kids round the corner to see the 9pm fireworks, they live in Kirribilli so the view was ace and then I was tucked up in bed well before midnight. I couldn’t sleep though so heard the midnight fireworks even if I didn’t see them! Your friends are a great advertisement for a sea change!

    1. Hubby is Scottish so I think he’d like it if I was more enthusiastic about hogmanay but I just am not into it! Our friends shifted up here 10 years ago, but have just moved out from the coast to the hinterland. I can certainly see the attraction!

  3. Happy New Year, Jo! I’m like you we had such a hectic Christmas, hosting get togethers on the 23rd and Christmas day that all I wanted to do was laze around and read. We went to the Coast for a week which was lovely and like you I saw the kiddies fireworks at 8pm from our balcony and then was in bed by 9pm. Although was woken briefly by the fireworks sounding in the New Year. Thanks for the fish recipe, I have to eat more fish so will give this a try. I’m sure your friends will enjoy their new lifestyle and it is lovely for you to have them living nearby. Have a fabulous 2019 and I do hope you have another book in the pipeline (no pressure LOL:) ) xx

    1. I’m trying to eat fish at least once a week – although it is quite exxie at the moment. It’s fun finding new ways of cooking or serving it.

  4. Hi, Jo – I seriously wasn’t a bit hungry before reading this post. Now, I’m starving. Funny, I think this has happened to me before when reading your posts. Thanks for the awesome fish recipe!

    1. Firstly, sorry…and secondly, you’re welcome. Yep, I think my posts should sometimes come with a calorie warning.

  5. I didn’t see in the new year either Jo – I think I made it til 10.30pm and then hit the sack. Lovely reading your wrap up and that you’ve had a lovely wind down time before leaping back into work. I have a week of holidays left and then it’s back to the grindstone (unfortunately I didn’t become independently wealthy due to any unexpected windfalls – so hi ho hi ho it’s back to work I go!) Happy 2019 and I really hope we get to catch up in Februaury! xx

    1. You know what? I didn’t become independently wealthy over the break either…go figure lol. Look forward to meeting you in real life…

  6. That grilled fish recipe sounds amazing! I love the beach walk photos that you’ve shared here and also on Instagram. I have the same love for the bay where I live.

    SSG xxx

    1. It’s something about the water, isn’t it? This fish is so easy, so tasty, & much cheaper than an airfare to Bali.

  7. Hi Jo, I love your update and thanks for sharing the recipe with us. I also enjoyed doing nothing much over the break, reading, lying in the hammock, trying to keep cool. We had a great week at the beach over Christmas but then returned home to the heatwave. The brightest speak for me was our first Christmas as grandparents ❤️ All the best for 2019. #lifethisweek

  8. Thanks for sharing this. I loved the visit to your friends’ place. I still think I prefer yours nearer the beach and with the pool. I used to be keen on seeing the fireworks on TV but they all seem similar these days. The 1999-2000 year change was the best ! Thank you for linking up to the first week of 51 for #lifethisweek in 2019. Next week, the optional prompt is “Word, Intention,Nothing” …I have all three (joke!) and will blog over the weekend about why. Denyse

    1. The one thing I didn’t mention in my blog that I couldn’t be doing with is all the crawlie and slidey critters you get in the bush…ugh…

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