22 August 2014




I messaged my Mam saturday morning asking her, " Oma, what are you cooking for today?".

Since my niece and nephews were born, we started calling her Oma instead of Mami and she calls me tante Oliv instead of Oliv. 

"Ikan woku," she replied.
I was on my way to go to the Saturday market with my sister. "Okay. I'll cook that too! Recipe please.. "

I don't know if I manage to capture the wonderful colors of Ikan woku in the photos, I hope so.. The bright orange color comes from the fresh turmeric, grinded. Hints of red comes from the chili and the tomatoes. Lemon basil and a little bit of pandan bring a little bit of contrast to the dish. 

I am used to heat and spicy food because I have been eating them since I was 8 - 9 years old. I hear a lot of people that are not used to it sometimes complain that Indonesian spicy food is only spicy and burns your tongue. Not this one, I feel that this dish has more depth of flavors than just for example, one of manado's most famous dish, rica-rica. 

Heat is prominent, but you'll also taste acidity from the lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves. Tomato and the pandan leaves give a sweeter taste and aroma to counter the heat. The lemon basil leaves adds the perfect aftertaste complement to the spices. 

Let's get cooking then!

This recipe serves 1 - 2 person. Eat with rice.
  • 1 pan for frying
  • 1 pan for stir-fry
  • mortar and pestle
  • 1 lemon and a handful of salt
  • 1 whole red snapper of 500 - 600 gr cleaned and gutted. Sliced to three pieces
  • 1 cup of oil for frying the fish
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 stalk of lemon grass, use only the root end
  • 1 leave of pandan 
  • 300 ml of water
  • 1 tomato, sliced 
  • A handful of lemon basil leaves (kemangi). Set aside a few for garnish.
Ingredients (grinded)
    • 1 shallot
    • 2 cloves of garlic
    • 3 bird's eye chili, seeded 
    • 1.5 cm of fresh turmeric
    • 1.5 cm of fresh ginger 
    • 2 candlenut (kemiri)
    • Prepare your fish first by marinating it with lemon juice and salt, let sit about 20 minutes. 
    • Fry the fish to remove the fishy taste (that sounds like a funny sentence :P). Fry until it's slightly golden brown. 
    • In the meantime, roughly grind all the ingredient with mortar and pestle. 
    • In a new pan, heat 3 tbsp of oil, add in the lemongrass, pandan and kaffir lime leaves. Let the oil infuse for 1 - 2 minutes. 
    • Add the grinded ingredients and sauté until it is aromatic, about 5 - 7 minutes.
    • Add in the fried fish and stir-fry to let the spices coat the fish. 
    • Add in water, tomato and lemon basil, let simmer for another 5 minutes until the stock is reduced and thick
    • Garnish with a few of lemon basil leaves and serve with warm rice. 
    • In Netherlands, you can find the lemon basil leaves (kemangi) in chinese winkel. Anyway, most of the ingredients I use I get them from the chinese winkel. If you cannot find it I am not sure what the substitute is, maybe next time I will try using just normal basil leaves and see what happens :P. 
    • I use red snapper here, but you can use any kind of fish with it. Normally in Jakarta, my mam would cook ikan woku with mackerel. 
    • I seed the chili here because I am also cooking for my dutch brother-in-law, but you can keep the seed if you can take the heat ;). For lesser heat, use only 1 chili.  
    • This fish is cooked on the bone, so you have to be careful!


    1. I am absolutely loving browsing through your recipes - I don't know much about Indonesian food but I would love to try to make more of it at home. This looks delicious!!

      1. Your comment made my day! It is my intention for this blog, I want more people to know about Indonesian food. They are delicious! :)


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