Margarita's International Recipes


Ikan Bakar

Jakartan Grilled Fish

Jakartan Grilled Fish

This is a grilled recipe.

Ikan bakar or "roasted fish" is a dish served throughout Indonesia and Malaysia - it's common fare in Jakartan restaurants and food stands alike. It's usually cooked on a charcoal grill, on top of banana leaves - but a regular gas grill will work as well. Given how popular a dish it is, there are many variations on the recipe. I chose a basic one, and added a couple of elements from other recipes.

In all, I was quite happy. The flavor was great, though the tilapia was a bit too delicate for direct grilling. Tilapia would not be the fish of choice in Jakarta, but it's what is available to me in California.


Ikan Bakar


  • 4 medium shallots, peeled and quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed, peeled and cut into 1" sections
  • 1" ginger root, peeled and sliced
  • 1" turmeric root, peeled and sliced or 2 Tbsp ground turmeric
  • 6 candlenuts or 12 macadamia nuts
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 Tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs tilapia or other white fish fillets
  • salt to taste
  • 4 tilapia fillets (approx 1 1/2 lbs)
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)


Using a blender or food processor, puree together the shallots, cloves, lemongrass, ginger root, turmeric root or ground turmeric, candlenuts or macadamia nuts, coriander seeds, oil and salt to taste. Set aside

Dry tilapia fillets. Season each filet with the juice of 1/2 a lime and salt to taste.

Rub the paste on both sides of each tilapia filet. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Prepare grill for direct grilling and heat on medium high. Transfer the fillets onto the grill. Place a pat of butter onto each fillet and then brush with kecap manis. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes and turn. Brush with additional kecap manis and grill until done, approximate 3 to 4 minutes more.

Adapted from a recipe at

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