Jimbaran Grilled Fish

Just back from a breathtaking trip to Bali. At the Jimbaran beach in Southern Bali, we walked into a seafood restaurant called Ganesh!! Yes, with the stone-carved shrine, smouldering agarbatti, Hindu offerings and all. In spite of the apparent contradiction of a Seafood Ganesh, the charcoal-grilled King Fish (that Tuhina had to pick from a live tank and still does not forgive the restaurant for putting her through this gruelling experience of choosing “Nemo” for supper) was absolutely fabulous.

Although most appropriate on a Hibachi grill, I experiment on an indoor broiler. I also use some substitute ingredients, including a butterflied Rainbow trout, but the result is still magically Balinese!

Special tools:.

Fish-grilling rack.


  • 1 whole Rainbow Trout, butterflied (approx 1 lb)
  • Marinade: 1 shallot , 1/2 inch ginger, 4 pods garlic, processed in a food processor + a pinch turmeric powder + juice of 1 lime
  • Baste: 1 tbsp sambol + 1 tbsp ketchup + 1 tbsp sunflower seed butter
  • Spinach sticky rice


Lightly salt the fish on both sides. Then apply the marinade with a brush on one side of the fish. Turn the fish over and do the same. Rest the fish for about 15 minutes. Place in the fish rack.

Gently place the fish-rack on a broiler tray, under the broiler, in the topmost rack of the oven, for 7 minutes. Turn and broil the other side for 5 minutes. When done, brush the basting liquid on one side. Broil for 2 minutes. Turn over and repeat the process.

Gently invert the fish, while the fish is still resting on one side of the grilling-rack with skin-side up, on a serving plate (like your would invert a Tarte Tatin or frittata). Serve hot with a slice of lime and a serving of spinach sticky rice (see below) on the side.

Notes, hints, tips:

  1. Spinach rice: 5 oz spinach + 1 cup short grain white rice . Cook the rice in 1 3/4 cup water till done (about 15 minutes). Fold in the spinach in two batches. Multiple batches helps in avoiding lumps of spinach greens in the rice.
  2. Red snapper, branzino work well too.
  3. For an authentic Jimbaran cut fish: butterfly, leaving the bone on, along the back of the fish and split it open.
  4. Alternative baste: candlenuts + butter (instead of sunflower seed butter), kecap manis (instead of regular ketchup).
  5. You could cook the rice in dashi to keep with the seafood theme.
  6. If you can find banana leaf, line your serving plate with the banana leaf and invert the fish onto it.
  7. If you are not into grilling/broiling, you can also bake the fish at 450 F for 15 minutes or until done.

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