Balinese Grilled Fish Salad

The first time Nick and I went to Bali was in the fall of 2015. While I grew up next door in the Philippines, I have actually never been anywhere else in Southeast Asia. For Nick, the only Asian country he’s been to was Taiwan. We are very fond of Thai and Vietnamese food, but never actually had Cambodian or Indonesian food, though I imagined it would be pretty similar to the food I grew up with.

While Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country, the famed island of Bali practices Hinduism, and that’s important to note since pork features heavily in Balinese cuisine. In fact, restaurants serving Babi Guling, or whole roasted pork are often the most crowded and the most popular. You need to make sure you get there before they run out of babi!! They have a limited supply each day. On that trip, we were perfectly content just trying out as much of the food as we can. The flavors in Balinese cooking was unlike we’ve ever tried before. Their Bebek Betutu, or roasted duck, is the stuff sweet dreams are made of.

In February 2017, I went back to Bali, but this time with my mom, and I knew I was going to take a cooking class while I was there. I actually wanted to learn how to make the bebek betutu but the schedule didn’t work out. I did manage to take a couple of other classes though. Balinese cuisine is very spicy and flavorful. There is no one flavor profile dominating, but rather the different textures and tastes complement each other very well. Not gonna lie, my Mom is not a fan of Balinese cooking, she thinks the spices are too much and overwhelm the rest of the ingredients, so keep that in mind when making this. I’ve adapted the recipes they taught us in class and substituted the more exotic ingredients with something more accessible here in the US. If there is an Asian market near you, I suggest you make a trip and try to get as much of the original ingredients as you could.

(Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as entree)


1 lb tuna steaks, or snapper
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 tsp turmeric powder, or thumb size fresh one
Juice of 1 lime
3 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste


3 tbsp olive oil
3 shallots, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 chilis, deseeded and chopped finely
½ tsp shrimp paste, or 1 tsp fish sauce
2 limes
1 tbsp ginger, chopped finely
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Combine cilantro, turmeric powder, lime, and oil; and mix well. Add fish and marinate for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.
  2. In a large bowl, add all the ingredients for the dressing and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
  3.  Grill the marinated fish on high heat for 3-5 minutes on each side. Let it rest for 10 minutes after.
  4. Once fish has cooled and rested, shred it into flakes, taking special care to take out any bones that you find.
  5.  Add the shredded fish to the prepared dressing and mix thoroughly. Serve with warm rice and enjoy.

The spice mixture

Letting the fish marinate as we fire up the grill
The chef showing us how to properly grill the fish
My mom, turning in her perfectly shredded fish

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