Wednesday, January 26, 2011

“Ikan Bakar Colo-Colo” (Grilled Fish with Colo-colo dip)

For this simple dish, any fish will do. Originally from the Mollucas or Maluku islands in Eastern Indonesia, Colo-colo is a spicy and sour dip that goes with any grilled fish and rice. People in the Mollucas islands – with its capital Ambon, hence they are called Ambonese – live in harmony with the sea for centuries. Staple food there are sago and seafood.

This dish was very special for me as a child. Introduced by my father who was born in Saparua – a tiny little dot in the map about 74 km east of Ambon.

Fresh catche from the sea, brought straight to the market (Saparua, Indonesia)
1. For the fish, any seawater fish will do. The amount is depending on how many people and how much each can eat (my father can finish one whole big tuna alone!)

2. For the Colo-colo dip:
4-5 small shallots (or 2 bigger banana shallots)
1 tomato
1-2 lime
Red chillies or bird eye chillies depending on how spicy you like your food

3. Any rice will do. I love Thai Jasmine rice, but I also like this dish with brown or red rice (yes, red!). You can also try organic wild rice. The amount? As much or as little as you like.

Preparing the fish
The best (and healthiest) is grilled or barbequed. I think barbeque fish in summer would be a nice “exotic” alternative to burgers and hot dogs.

Any fresh fish will be delicious grilled with colo-colo

Brush the fish with lime juice, then season with salt and pepper, grill or barbeque it until done (I don’t give the time or temperature as this will vary for different sizes of fish. Also, imagine living a natural live in the days before thermometer and electric oven….)

You can also have the fish fried. Shallow fry on both sides and check that all the flesh are cooked.

How to make the dip
Chop the shallots, tomato and chilli; put them together in a bowl. Squeeze the juice of one lime, add another one if it’s a small one. Add warm water (about 50 ml).

How to boil the rice
Quite straight forward. Most types of rice will cooked nicely with one part rice and two part water. Boil, but keep your eye on it as rice tends to stick on the pan. The Oriental way of boiling rice is to invest on a rice cooker (available in most Oriental or Asian supermarkets, price varies between £5 to £40).

How to enjoy Ikan bakar colo-colo
All together on a plate or bowl, dig in with your hand. Fish out the caveman/woman inside you and enjoy…!

Eating fish with your hand also helps in your fight against the bones. Knives and forks would not help you finding the tricky little bones, but your fingers will sense them.

* I found another version of colo-colo with additional basil (I prefer sweet basil) leaves. For this recipe, read Tony Wu's blog

No comments: