Squid grilled in banana-leaf packets

Squid grilled in banana-leaf packets

Pepes cumi-cumi (Jakarta)

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From
South East Asian Food

Pepes is a west Javanese dish that has become very popular in recent years.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
500g baby squid or cuttlefish, still with ink sacs if possible
2 cups lemon basil leaves or asian sweet basil
or a few green leaves of spring onion, chopped
5 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
salt, to taste
piece banana leaf or strong foil, 20–23 cm square for wrapping

Paste spices

Quantity Ingredient
5-10 red and green chillies, seeded
2 stalks lemongrass, finely sliced, (white part only)
5 candlenuts, roasted and smashed
or raw almonds or macadamia nuts
3 garlic cloves, sliced
6 shallots, sliced
1.5cm slice shrimp paste, (optional)

Method

  1. In a mortar or a food processor attachment grind the spices to a paste. Wash the squid, pull them apart and remove their ‘quills’ or spines, skin, heads and beaks but leave their ink sacks in, if they have them.
  2. In a bowl carefully mix the squid (both bodies and tentacles), spice paste, basil, lime leaves and salt. Prepare banana-leaf pieces. If you are using banana leaves, soften them over a hot electric stove element or gas ring, or even in hot water until they are pliable. If using foil, rub a 12 cm strip on one end lightly with oil. A quarter of the way in from the end of the banana leaf or foil, put enough of the mixture to make packets about 5 cm wide, leaving 3–4 cm clear at each end. Roll up, fold into points at each end and fix with a toothpick.
  3. Boil some water in a steamer and steam the packets over it for 30 minutes. Alternatively, if you are using banana leaves, cook the packets in a microwave.
  4. In the meantime bring a charcoal barbecue to a steady glow. Remove the packets from the steamer or microwave and grill them on both sides over the moderate fire until the banana leaf is brown. If using foil you can do the entire cooking over a barbecue. Cut the packets open neatly at the table.
  5. Pepes ikan (Fish in Banana-leaf Packets – West Java-Style) You can also use the above recipe for plain fish pepes. Clean and scale a small whole fish (it should be a soft one – e.g. freshwater fish or mullet). Prepare the banana-leaf pieces or foil, put the fish on top, sprinkle with lime juice then spread spice paste over and inside it. Roll up the packets and cook as for Pepes cumi-cumi.
  6. It is also very good with fish roe – try sea mullet roe. Keep the roe in a piece (about 250 g), steam it first and then rub it with spice paste. Wrap into a parcel as before and finish off on a charcoal grill.
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