Chef's Recipes

Grilled fish in banana leaves with cucumber pickle (Ikan panggang dengan acar ketimun)

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for Grilled fish in banana leaves with cucumber pickle (Ikan panggang dengan acar ketimun)

By Tony Tan
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 30 mins cooking plus pickling
  • Serves 6
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Grilled fish in banana leaves with cucumber pickle (Ikan panggang dengan acar ketimun)
Fish grilled over charcoal, sometimes wrapped in banana leaves, is very popular throughout Indonesia, and every region has its own variation. Some versions are simple, requiring nothing more than a splash of lime juice, some turmeric and shallots and a fresh tomato sambal, while others, such as the following recipe, call for a spice paste. It is simple to prepare and a joy to eat. Sometimes I serve it with cucumber pickle (acar ketimun) to whet the appetite.


  • 1 whole snapper or barramundi (about 1kg)
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • Large piece of banana leaf, to wrap fish (see note)
  • To serve: lime wedges
  • For brushing: vegetable oil
Cucumber pickle
  • 1 telegraph cucumber, halved lengthways, thinly sliced
  • 2 long red chillies, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
Spice paste
  • 5 long red chillies, coarsely chopped
  • 3 large golden shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 60 ml lime juice (¼ cup)
  • 10 gm ginger, coarsely chopped (2cm piece)
  • 5 gm galangal, coarsely chopped (1cm piece)
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 250 ml coconut milk (1 cup)


  • 1
    For cucumber pickle, combine cucumber and chilli in a bowl. Combine sugar, vinegar, 1 tsp salt and 2-3 tbsp hot water in a separate bowl, stir to dissolve sugar, set aside to cool, then pour over cucumber and chilli and set aside to pickle (30 minutes).
  • 2
    Score fish three or four times diagonally on both sides. Rub with lime juice and ½ tsp salt and set aside.
  • 3
    For spice paste, blend ingredients (except coconut milk) in a food processor until smooth, then add coconut milk and mix well. Rub half over fish (reserve remainder).
  • 4
    Preheat oven to 180C. Wrap fish in banana leaf and roast in a roasting pan until cooked through (20-25 minutes).
  • 5
    Meanwhile, warm reserved spice paste, stirring occasionally, in a small saucepan over medium heat (6 minutes).
  • 6
    Transfer fish to a serving plate, unwrap banana leaf, cover with warmed spice paste and serve with cucumber pickle and lime.


Note Banana leaves are available from Asian greengrocers. This recipe is from the June 2011 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

  • Author: Tony Tan