SMEIndonesia.org – Pepes is an Indonesian cooking method using banana leaf as food wrappings. The banana-leaf package containing food is secured with lidiseumat (a small nail made from central rib of coconut-leaf and sew upon banana-leaf), cooked on steam, in boiled water or grilled on charcoal.
This cooking technique allowed the rich spices mixture to be compressed against the main ingredients inside the individual banana leaf package while being cooked, and also add distinct aroma of cooked or burned banana leaf. Although being cooked simultaneously with food, the banana leaf is a non-edible material and its function was as the cookable organic wrapper.
The technique most commonly used to prepare is fish. In West Java, ikan mas (Cyprinuscarpio) is the most popular fish to be cooked as pepes.In Palembang, patin (Pangasiussutchi) is the most common fish to be used, while in West Sumatra, people use bilih fish (Mystacoleucuspadangensis).
However fish is not the only ingredient to be made for pepes. Seafood, meat, chicken, tofu, tempeh, oncom, mushroom or vegetables are also available to be prepared in this method. There are many variations of pepes recipes.
Other seafood such as shrimp and squid, although less common, can be used in pepes. Non-fish meat such as chicken and minced beef mixed with egg can also be used. In Palembang, the dish pepes tempoyak is well known, which is a steamed fermented durian paste in banana leaf container.
A rather exotic and unusual meat might also be cooked as pepes, for example as swikee variations, frog legs and frog eggs might be prepared as pepes. The method is used in several Indonesian dishes, and also become the name of a dish prepared in this manner, for example:
- Pepes ikan mas (carp pepes)
- Pepes daging (minced beef pepes)
- Pepes ayam (chicken pepes)
- Pepes tahu (tofu pepes)
- Pepes oncom (oncom pepes)
- Pepes teri (anchovy pepes)
- Pepes jamur (mushroom pepes)
- Pepes kodok (boneless frog legs pepes)
- Pepes telur kodok (frog eggs pepes)
- Pepes tempoyak (fermented durian paste pepes)
Pepes are typically consumed with steamed rice. Otak-otak is similar to pepes, it is a mixture of fish and tapioca flour with spices wrapped in banana leaf. The vegetables with shredded coconut pepes is called Botok.
Buntil is prepared in a similar way, but used papaya or cassava leaves instead of banana leaves, making the wrapping edible as part of the dish.
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