Adding a Malaysian Touch To Your BBQ

The art of cooking food over a charcoal fire is an age-old tradition in Southeast Asia, and is particularly prominent in Malaysian cooking. While working in a Malay restaurant many years ago, New York-based chef Zakary Pelaccio learnt that “Fire management is central to Malaysian grilling”, accurately pointing out the secret behind piquant traditional favourites such as Ikan Bakar (grilled fish). In conjunction with B.I.G.’s BBQ Fair (5th – 15th July), we’ve gathered some truly mouth-watering local delicacies for your sizzling and grilling pleasure.

Ikan Bakar (Spicy Grilled Fish Wrapped In Banana Leaves)

Recipe from

The quintessential classic Malay dish, you’ll be hard put to find anyone who doesn’t enjoy a serving of Ikan Bakar. The use of banana leaves amplifies the smoky taste of chargrilled fish,further complemented by multiple layers of spicy sambal. Enough said, you have to try this the next time you fire up the barbeque.

1 lb fish fillet or whole fish of your choice (eg: red snapper)

For Grilled Fish Sambal:
6 oz. fresh red chilies, deseeded and cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon toasted belacan (Malaysian shrimp paste)
4 oz shallots
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons fish sauce to taste
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar, or to taste
1/2 lime or 1 calamansi lime (limau kasturi), extract the juice
2 lemongrass, cut into thin slices
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
4 tablespoons oil

For Sambal Belacan and Sliced Shallots Condiment:
3 fresh red chilies, deseeded
2 bird’s eye chilies, deseeded
1 teaspoon of toasted belacan
2 shallots, thinly sliced
Sugar to taste
Salt to taste
8 tablespoons of water + tamarind pulp (size of a small ping pong ball)



Grilled Fish Sambal:
1. Prepare the sambal by grinding chilies, shallots, belacan and lemongrass in a food processor. Make sure the sambal paste is well blended and smooth.
2. Heat up a wok and “tumis” (stir-fry) the sambal paste until aromatic or when the oil separates from the sambal paste. Add the seasonings: salt, sugar, and fish sauce and do a quick stir, dish out and set aside.

Sambal Belacan and Sliced Shallots Condiment:
1. Soak the tamarind pulp with water for 15 minutes and extract the juice. In a mortar and pestle or food processor, pound/blend the red chilies, bird’s eye chilies, and toasted belacan. 
2. Add tamarind juice, sugar, salt, and sliced shallots to the sambal. Stir well and set aside.

Grilling the Fish:

1. Lay a few sheets of banana leaves and grease the surface of the banana leaves with some oil. Lay the fish fillet on top of the banana leaves and add about 2 – 3 tablespoons of sambal on top of the fish. Spread the sambal evenly.
2. Place the fish on top of the grill (upper rack with indirect heat) and cover the grill.
3. Wait for 8 minutes or so (depending on the heat) and flip the fish over to the other side. Add 2 – 3 more tablespoons of sambal on the other side of the fish. Cook for another 8 minutes or until the fish is cooked.
4. Transfer the fish and the banana leaves to the lower rack and grill for a couple of minutes with direct heat, or when you smell the sweet aroma of burnt banana leaves.
5. Transfer out and serve immediately with sambal belacan and sliced shallots condiment.

Grilled Vegetable and Rice Salad with Fish-Sauce Vinaigrette

  1. Recipe from
  2. This charming rice salad recipe will make you fall in love with vegetables all over again, as they taste so much better with rice when chargrilled to perfection. Perfect eaten both as a side dish or main course.
  3. Ingredients:
    For the Salad
    1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
    Vegetable oil
    12 okra pods
    3 ears of corn, shucked
    2 large zucchini, halved lengthwise, centers scooped out
    2 long red chiles (such as Holland or Anaheim), stemmed
    1 small eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1′ slices
    1 tablespoon sea salt

    Dressing and Assembly
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1 teaspoon palm sugar or (packed) light brown sugar
    2 tablespoons fish sauce (such as nuoc nam or nam pla)
    1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
    2 cups (loosely packed) mixed fresh tender herbs (such as basil, cilantro, fennel fronds, marjoram, mint, and tarragon)
    4 cups steamed jasmine rice
  5. Method:
    1. Preheat oven to 250 °. Spread out coconut (if using) on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring often, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool on pan.
    2. Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. Brush grill grates with oil. Meanwhile, combine okra, corn, zucchini, chiles, eggplant, and salt in a large bowl; drizzle with oil and toss to coat.
    3. Grill vegetables (use a grill basket if you have one), turning frequently, until crisp-tender and lightly charred, about 8 minutes. Place chiles in a medium bowl; cover tightly with plastic to let steam for easy peeling. Set chiles aside for dressing.
    4. Cut corn kernels from cobs; place in a large bowl. Cut zucchini and eggplant into irregular 1″ pieces; place in bowl with corn. Trim any tough tops from okra and cut okra in half lengthwise; add to bowl. Set aside.
  6. Dressing and Assembly
  7. 1. Peel or scrape off charred skin from chiles and discard. Purée chiles (with seeds) and garlic in a food processor or mash with a mortar and pestle until a coarse paste forms. Add sugar and process or pound until dissolved. Stir in fish sauce and lime juice.
    2. Drizzle dressing over warm vegetables; add herbs and toasted coconut (if using); toss well.
    3. Scoop steamed rice onto a platter and top with salad.

Homemade Lemang (Pandan Infused Coconut Rice Cooked Over Charcoal)

Recipe from

Make use of your leftover ingredients from Raya and fire up some lemang on the grill! Lemang is a glutinous rice cake cooked painstakingly for many hours over hot charcoal. Even though the process is long and often requires a ‘change of shift’ between cooks, the end result is truly a labour of love.

500 grams of glutinous rice  
4 cups of coconut milk
1 pandan leaf
1 large stick of bamboo
2-3 banana leaves
Pinch of salt

1. Line the inside of the bamboo stick with banana leaves. You only need one, but for first timersthe process can be difficult, as the leaves tear easily.
2. Wash and drain the glutinous rice.
3. Fill the bamboo stick with the glutinous rice.
4. Add a pinch of salt and the pandan leaf to the coconut milk and heat until you can smell the fragrance of the pandan. Pour the mixture into the bamboo.
5. Roast the whole bamboo next to an open fire or on a grill, turning it every 15 minutes, for 3 hours. Alternatively you can put the bamboo in a large pot with water and let it steam uncovered for 2 hours

Honey Glazed Grilled Pineapple

Recipe from

An ideal dessert for a Malaysian barbeque, savour the enhanced sweetness and flavour of chargrilled nanas (pineapple), topped with ice cream for a feel-good treat. Bon pine-appletit!   

1/4 cup honey
Juice of 2 limes (depending on how juicy the limes are)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 pineapple, cut into 3/4-inch thick rings, core removed
3/4 cup vanilla ice cream

1. In a baking dish, mix together the honey, lime juice, and cinnamon. Place the pineapple slices in the glaze and let marinate 2 hours, turning occasionally.
2. Preheat a grill pan over medium heat.
3. Place the pineapple slices on the preheated grill. Grill on both sides until the glaze caramelizes and grill marks form, about 2 minutes per side.
4. To serve: Place the pineapple slices on individual plates and top with a scoop of ice cream. Drizzle the remaining honey syrup over the top.

Grilled Durian

Recipe courtesy of

Yes, you read that right! The idea sprouted when a video showing durians being grilled over charcoal went viral on social media last year. The craze seems to have died down since, so why not revive this unique method since it’s barbeque season? It combines 2 quintessential aspects of Malaysia  – durians and cooking over charcoal fire. Durian purists may frown upon this method of eating, but some find it tastes better than eating it raw! As we say, belum cuba belum tahu (don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it).


1. Put durian(s) on charcoal heat and start grilling.
2. Turn the durian over from time to time to make sure it is well-cooked.
3. Once the durian shell starts to crack, continue grilling the durian for another 5 to 10 minutes.
4. Take note of the colour of the durian. The durian is well-cooked when the shell turns black.
5. Eat while the filling is hot, but be careful not to burn your tongue!


We hope we’ve got you excited to bring that strong kick of Malaysian flavour to your barbeque party! Find everything you need to prepare these delicacies at our grocer, paying particular attention to the spices and condiments from Malaya Kitchen – they pack a hefty portion of the unique flavour these dishes have to offer. See you at B.I.G., and happy grilling! .

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