Pepes Ikan (Steamed Marinated Fish in Banana Leaf)

steamed fish in a banana leaf

Pepes is an Indonesian cooking technique that uses banana leaves to wrap various ingredients (spices with fish, meat, or tofu), which is then steamed or grilled on charcoal.  This method allows the ingredients to be compacted into a sort of cake, and is very similar to another popular Southeast Asian dish otak-otak.

We made these fish pepes along with a minced chicken version Tum Ayam during my Balinese Cooking Class.

Pepes Ikan — Steamed Marinated Fish in Banana Leaf (recipe by I Nyoman Sudiyasa of Sate Bali)


  • 600g Mackerel fillets, skin removed and cut in 1 inch cubes
  • 1/2 C Base Be Pasih (spice paste for seafood)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon Tamarind, soaked in 1/2 C warm water and juice extracted
  • 1 T black peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 lemon leaves
  • 2 salam leaves
  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • 12 pieces of banana leaf


In a large bowl, combine the mackerel cubes, Base Be Pasih (seafood spice paste), tamarind juice, crushed black pepper, lemon leaf, salt and oil and mix well in order to coat the fish evenly.  Cover and let marinate in a cool place for 2 hours.

mix well to coat the fish evenly

Place one salam leaf in the center of each piece of banana leaf.  Top with half of the seafood mixture, and fold into a square shape and stick with a toothpick to fasten. Place the packet directly onto hot charcoals and roast very slowly for 1 hour.  Alternatively, bake on a rack in a oven on moderate heat, or grill for about 30 minutes.

fold the fish mixture into square packets

4 Responses to “Pepes Ikan (Steamed Marinated Fish in Banana Leaf)”
  1. anggitacy says:

    Terrific recipe! Love Indonesian food. so so good.

  2. I love using banana leaves…everything about this dish screams…eat me, eat me!

  3. Looks really yum…on my list of things to try….never tried Balinese food before 🙂

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