Boemboe Bali of Fish

The island of Bali has wonderful fish, surrounded as it is by sparkling blue sea. This simple fish "curry" is packed with many of the characteristic flavours associated with Indonesia.


serves 4 - 6
675 g (1 1/2 lb) cod or haddock fillet
1 cm (1/2 in) cube terasi
2 red or white onions
2.5 cm (1 in) fresh root ginger, peeled and sliced
1 cm (1/2 in) fresh lengkuas, peeled and sliced, or 5 ml (1 tsp) lengkuas powder
2 garlic cloves
1 - 2 fresh red chillies, seeded, or 5 - 10 ml (1 - 2 tsp) chilli powder
90 ml (6 tbsp) sunflower oil
15 ml (1 tbsp) dark soy sauce
5 ml (1 tsp) tamarind pulp, soaked in 30 ml (2 tbsp) warm water
250 ml (8 fl oz) 1 cup water
celery leaves or chopped fresh chilli, to garnish
boiled rice, to serve


1. Skin the fish, remove any bones and then cut the flesh into bite-size pieces. Pat dry with kitchen paper and set aside.

2. Grind the terasi, onions, ginger, lengkuas, garlic and fresh chillies, if using, to a paste in a food processor or with a pestle and mortar. Stir in the chilli powder and lengkuas powder, if using.

3. Heat 30 ml (2 tbsp) of the oil and fry the spice mixture, stirring, until it gives off a rich aroma. Add the soy sauce. Strain the tamarind and add the juice and water. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes.

4. In a separate pan, fry the fish in the remaining oil for 2 - 3 minutes. Turn once only so that the pieces stay whole. Lift out with a draining spoon and put into the sauce.

5. Cook the fish in the sauce for a further 3 minutes and serve with boiled rice. Garnish the dish with feathery celery leaves or a little chopped fresh chilli, if liked.

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