Perfectly cooked fish, with a flavoursome aroma to go with.


  • 1 sea bass, descaled and gutted

  • Small bunch of kemangi leaves (Indonesian basil)

  • 3 salam leaves (bay leaves)

  • Lime juice from 2 limes

  • Banana leaves to wrap

  • For the paste

  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

  • 7 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

  • 3 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

  • 1/4 tsp white pepper

  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

  • 1/4 nutmeg

  • 1/4 tsp tail pepper

  • 1/4 tsp cumin seed

  • 1/4 tsp aniseed

  • 1 long pepper

  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds

  • 2 cm fresh turmeric (fried)

  • 2 cm fresh ginger peeled and finely chopped

  • 1 cm galangal peeled and finely chopped

  • 1/2 tsp tamarind paste

  • 4 candle nuts

  • 1 stalk lemongrass

  • 1tsp coconut sugar


  • 1.

    Set the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

  • 2.

    To make the spice paste, toast the white pepper, black pepper, nutmeg, tail pepper, cumin seeds, aniseeds, long pepper and coriander seeds in a dry pan over a moderate heat for 5 minutes.

  • 3.

    Use a pestle and mortar to pound all the toasted ingredients and then add garlic, shallots, red chillies, ginger, galangal, tamarind paste and candle nuts. Continue to pound until you have a rough paste.

  • 4.

    Clean the fish under a tap. Rub with lime juice and leave for 5 minutes.

  • 5.

    Coat the fish with spice paste and season with salt and stuff the fish with a bunch of kemangi (Indonesian basil) leaves.

  • 6.

    Place the fish in the centre of a banana leaf that is approximately 70cm by 40cm fold the edges over, enveloping the fish and fasten with wooden skewers.

  • 7.

    Bake for 40- 50 minutes.

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