Pan Fried ‘Ikan Bakar’

An attempt to replicate the delicious Malay gastronomy; Ikan Bakar

Luxurious marinated, covered in banana leave then slowly burnt over the charcoal grills and served with sambal cili belacan.

In Malaysia, the typical ikan bakar would be made using Ikan Kembung (Indian Mackerel), although you could find almost every seafood and fish varieties served bakar.

As said, the original recipe requires cooking over the charcoal (and its flaming fire) to get that lovely burnt crust. To simplify the cooking, I have pan fried (and gently burnt it) on the stove.

A generally rule of thumb

10 minutes cooking time per inch of fish’s thickest point (turn over after 5 minutes).
You do not have to turn over if fish thickness is less than ½ inch.
Add additional 5 minutes if you are cooking the fish with sauce or in foil.

Mackerels arrive in Britain between May and October hence its one of the best summer food.

I used fresh whole mackerel from local supermarket, halved it and marinated them in turmeric powder, salt and ginger paste for about 30 minutes.

Other ingredients (per whole fish)

2 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
½ Lemon / Lime juice

Making Sambal Cili

Manually grind in mortar or electronically blitz:
1 red chili
1 green bird’s eye chili
2 shallots
½ clove garlic
½ Lemon juice (or tamarind juice if available)


1. Heat oil on medium, add garlic to infuse the oil. Add maximum of two halves of fish in pan, cover and cook each side for 7 minutes.
2. Sprinkle the fish with juice of lemon / lime. Then cook on medium to high heat, uncovered for another 3 minutes (to get that burnt crust) (turn over after 90 seconds). Press it down with spoon to encourage even cooking.

Best consume with generous servings of sambal cili and boiled rice!

Now if you are ever planning on a visit to Malaysia and liked the ikan bakar recipe above, do not leave without trialling out the Ikan Pari Bakar (Stingray Fish) with Sambal Cili Okra….yumminess to grander level 🙂


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Wow beautiful picture of the dish! Looks wonderful!


    1. creamcili says:

      I live of fish and seafood! 🙂


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