Braised mackerel with spices (Bau Peapi from Mandar)

My fishmonger at my Saturday market in Haarlem sells fresh mackerel today. That makes me happy because there are still some Beb Vuyk recipes waiting for fresh mackerel. Normally we buy smoked mackerel in Holland.

My sweet fresh mackerel is caught in Scotland. I opt today for Beb’s Bau Peapi recipe.

This fish recipe is from Mandar (West-Sulawesi, Indonesia) according to Beb Vuyk. In this recipe a kilo of fish is used; definitely enough for 3-4 people. It is done in 1,5 hours (if you include marinating).

Braised fish with spices (Bau Peapi from Mandar) #218 translated from Beb Vuyk Groot Indonesisch Kookboek, page 202.


1 kg of mackerel
2 dl of water
2 tablespoons of fried onions
5 tablespoons of chopped onions
2 chopped cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons of sambal ulek
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
asem (tamarind) the size of a walnut

Rub onions, garlic, sambal, asem (seeds and fibers taken out), salt, pepper, and turmeric together into a paste. Rub the fish with this mix and marinate for an hour.

Bring water to the boil. Add the seasoned fish and the leaked out fish water. Cook the fish gently for +/- 1/4 hours. Sprinkle fried onions on top before serving.

I’ve bought mackerel fillets, because mackerel has loads of bones and fillets are easier to eat.

Asem is tamarind. I buy that in a jar at my Asian store already filtered. I dilute two teaspoons of tamarind with two tablespoons of water.

I make my own sambal. Sambal ulek is super easy to make. Here you find the recipe. I freeze my chili salsa in ice cube blocks. This way I always have fresh sambal in stock.

I use my emersion blender to mix the onions, garlic, and sambal. I scoop the turmeric (yellow root) through. This herb mix is now smooth enough to use as a marinade.

This herb mix is now smooth enough to use as a marinade.

When everything is mixed well, I add the diluted asem (tamarind) to the spice mix.

I marinate my fillets in a flat dish. Easier to place back in the fridge for an hour or more.

I bring 2 dl of water to the boil.

I braise all the fish fillets straight into the water for 15 minutes on low heat.

I think this dish needs something green on top for the color balance. I cut some fresh coriander and sprinkle it on top together with the fried onions (bawang goreng).

This Bau Peapi dish is slightly acidic in flavor because of the tamarind. Lovely. The garlic and sambal provide spiciness. The combination of this fatty fish and the tangy marinade is delicious. We eat it with rice and an Indonesian sayur.


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2 Responses

  1. Ika says:

    I am from Indonesia and I just found your website from foodgawker. I love cooking too and it’s interesting to see the Indonesian recipes here on your website. I didn’t know there’s an Indonesian Cook Book by a foreign author. I think I’m going to try some of the recipes you wrote here. Thank you!

    • Pauline Chavannes de Senerpont Domis says:

      thank you so much for your lovely comment. Makes my day! I make all 578 recipes from an old cook book, that used to be famous in Holland (made by Beb Vuyk; a Dutch-Indonesian journalist and cook book writer). I am campuran too 😉 Love Indonesian food sooo much 😉 Thanks and hope to see you back on my blog, loads of food love too you!

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