Sesame Ikan Bakar with Szechuan Pepper Oil

A Classic Malaysian dish, Ikan Bakar translates to grilled fish. Here is a spicy fusion take on this dish, baked with sesame oil and Szechuan peppers.
Ikan Bakar

Serves 4 people
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

  • 300 g whole ikan genahak (red snapper), scaled
  • 2 Tbsp Double Pagoda sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 4 dried red chilies
  • 3 shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 12 g belacan
  • 8 g ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Szechuan peppers
  • 1 Tbsp Double Pagoda Szechuan pepper oil
  • ½ lime, wedged (substitute with calamansi lime, halved)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 ½ Tbsp salt
Chef's Tip
  • The snapper in this recipe can be substituted with many other fish, including pomfret, sea bass, grouper and even stingray
  • When buying fresh fish, ensure that the eyes are clear and that the flesh is firm to the touch. Request for the fishmonger to clean and scale the fish for you if you're unsure how to do so.
  • If you want to make your own Szechuan pepper oil, do the following;

In a pot on medium heat, add 2 Tbsp Szechuan pepper, 1 Tbsp white peppercorn and 200 ml vegetable oil. Allow peppers to render in the oil for at least 10 minutes, to impart flavor. Leave to cool, then bottle and enjoy!


Score and marinate fish

Ikan Bakar - Score fish and marinate

With a sharp knife, score the fish by making 3 slits on each side and place fish on a baking tray. Rub 2 Tbsp sesame oil and 2 Tbsp salt in to the fish, especially into the cut.

Ikan Bakar - Set aside to marinate

Set aside to marinate for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Blend and fry spice paste

Ikan Bakar - Blend spices and fry

In a blender, add dried chili, shallots, garlic, 1 Tbsp Szechuan pepper, belacan, sliced ginger, 1 Tbsp sugar, 1 ½ Tbsp salt and blend until it forms a smooth paste.

Ikan Bakar - Add oil for smooth consistency

If mixture is too dry, you can use vegetable oil to help you achieve a smooth consistency

Ikan Bakar - Fry paste in pan

In a pan on medium heat, add spice paste and fry for at least 20 minutes, until much darker in colour and oil has separated from the paste.

Bake fish and serve

Ikan Bakar - Coat fish with spice and bake

Coat fish with spice paste, then bake in the oven for 25 minutes at 180°C.

Ikan Bakar - Drizzle with Szechuan pepper oil

Remove from heat and drizzle with 1 Tbsp Szechuan pepper oil.

Serve hot with a slice of lime.

Chef's Tip
  • Best eaten with steamed rice.