Ikan woku belanga is a popular Menadonese dish from Minahasa descent people in Menado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Ikan means fish in bahasa, while woku belanga means caypot cooked. There are two types of woku, woku daun and woku belanga. Woku daun or leaf woku is similiar to pepes ikan or leaf wrapped spiced fish, while woku belanga is claypot cooked spiced fish that usually contain more liquid. Woku belanga is not only made with fish, but also chicken, or even beef. Common fish for woku belanga is grass carp, tilapia, red snapper, skipjack tuna, grouper or goropa in Minahasanese language. The best ikan woku belanga using grouper fish called Ikang goropa woku belanga. Even mine was cooked in a wok-pan, but the simmering process may be the same in the claypot if you put the lid to cover up the fish.
Ikan woku belanga can be with or without addition of coconut milk, but if don’t just adjust the amount of the candlenut within your spice paste to get the same creamy taste. Ikan woku belanga is similiar to gulai ikan, but it contain less coconut milk. The other diffrence beetween ikan woku belanga and gulai ikan is the addion of pandan leaves and also lemon basil leaves on woku. Ikan woku belanga is using lemon cui/jeruk limau or calamansi limes, kaffir lime leaves and daun kemangi (balakama) while gulai using kafir lime juice and also the leaves.
Manadonese food is typically hot and spicy, lots of spice and chilli added, along with fragrance leaves and spice like turmeric leaves, ginger, spring onion and pandang leaves. Pandan leaves is a potent fragrance leaves that commonly added to Menadonese cuisine like Garo bunga pepaya(Stir Fry Smoked Skipjack Tuna withPapaya Blossom), iga sapi bakar bumbu rica-rica (grilled ribs with hot chilli sauce). You can tide up or thinly slice the pandan leaves before using it. Remember to watch the amount of the pandan leaves because it can easily overpowering the dish. Other fragrance ingredient that usually used in Menadonese cuisines is kaffir lime leaves, daun kemangi (lemon basil) and lemongrass, diffrent from Padangnese cuisines like rendang, kalio or gulai, the kaffir lime leaves and the lemongrass is not discarded because it’s thinly sliced. Thats why you use only the soft white part of the lemongrass into almost Menadonese cuisines recipe.
For this woku belanga, i’m using a giant grouper fish head thats why i should called this as Woku Belanga Kepala Ikan Kerapu. The fish head it was weighted about 2.6 kg and I1was so damn lucky to buy this fresh and meaty fish head on Food Hall Supermarket. It was tagged about 1 USD for a kilo, this is insanely cheap and possibly five times cheaper than the traditional fresh market price tag. I’m using only half of it and make Malaysian fish head assam laksa with the remaining.
Resep Ikan Woku Belanga khas Manado:
- 1 kg grouper fish head or whole grouper fish (Ikan kerapu, you can replace with red snapper/ ikan kakap merah, ikan mas/grass carp fish or ikan mujair/tilapia)
- 2 tbsp calamansi lime juice (you can replace with lemon juice)
- 1 kaffir lime leaves (daun jeruk purut), deveined
- 1 cup lemon basil leaf (daun kemangi)
- 4 lemongrass (sereh), take the soft white part only, thinly slice
- 7 cm pandan leaf (daun pandan), tide up
- 1/2 turmeric leaf (daun kunyit), tide up
- 1 cup coconut milk (santan)
- 2 cups water (air)
- 1 tomato (tomat), diced
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil(minyak sayur)
- salt and pepper to taste
- a pinch of sugar (gula)*optional
Resep Bumbu Ikan Woku Belanga Spice Paste Recipe:
- 12 shallots (bawang merah)
- 6 cloves garlic (bawang putih)
- 6 cayenne pepper (cabe merah)
- 6 or more bird eye chilli (cabe rawit)
- 1 tsp HOMEMADE GARAM MASALA SPICE MIXTURE (bubuk kari)
- 4 cm ginger (jahe)
- 3 cm galagal (lengkuas)
- 4 cm turmeric (kunyit)
- 4 candlenuts (kemiri)
- season the fish head with kalamansi limes juice, salt ang pepper, set aside
- Heat up the 2 tbsp oil in a heavy bottom sauce pan, saute the spice paste with a low heat until the spice is throughly cooked. Visual aspect is the key! the oil is slowly separated and formed in the edge when it throughly cooked.
- Add lemongrass, pandan leaves, turmeric leaves, kaffir lime leaves, asam gelugur, tomato . Stir another minutes.
- Pour the coconut oil and water, bring to boil.
- Reduce the heat and cook until the coconut milk is throughly cook and adjust the taste, keep stirring
- Add the grouper fish hesd and simmer unti the fish is cooked, keep gently pouring the woku broth over and over again to the fish head to make it properly cooked and the spice is properly penetrated to the fish flesh.
- Turn off the heat and put the lemon basil leaves
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