Ikan Bakar (Grilled Fish)
Kuala Lumpur is the capital city of Malaysia, the country that is surrounded by the sea. It is evident that fish would be included in the delicacies. Ikan bakar is a variety of fish like stingray, grouper, mackerel, snappers or pomfret slathered with margarine, lemongrass and special sauce. The fish is wrapped in the banana leaves to retain the flesh juicy moisture. Then it is grilled with charcoal until it is cooked.
Ikan bakar is often served with a plate of white rice, some salad and dipping sauce made of chilli, lime, onion and soy sauce.
Image by: Charles Haynes
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When ready to serve, just peel away the top side of the fish (skin and meat) careful to leave the bones behind. If you can, try to remove the skeleton in one piece, then work your way to the other side’s meat. It’s very easy with two people – my husband and I didn’t even use forks because it was more fun to pull the tender white meat away from the bones with our fingers. What savages! The fish was moist and infused with wonderful, roasted flavor – subtle, but definitely there.
Naturally, I prefer the former because of the wonderful fragrant the banana leaves give off. They also keep the fish skin intact. The marinade that goes into grilled fish may vary from vendor to vendor. The same goes for the dips (that accompany the grilled fish); a secret ingredient or two could lift an ordinary grilled fish to a whole new level.
In Malay, bakar means roast or burnt while ikan means fish. Put the two together and you’ve got burnt roasted fish.The seafood is marinated and grilled, often splashed with bright orange chili sauce as it roasts. Mackerel or squid may be roasted directly on the heat while items like stingray are normally wrapped in a banana leaf before being cooked.The chilies packed marinade is extremely flavorful, but not overly spicy.