One of my faaaaaavorite foods in the whole wide world is what we usually call the “Ikan Tunu Daun Simpur“. It always brings me fond memories from my childhood when my mum would feed this to me with her hands. The recipe is also drop dead simple and low maintenance, consisting of simple and fresh ingredients, readily available from your nearest market.
I apologise my pictures are not to their usual ‘standard’ though, since this was made for dinner, the lighting is not exceptionally bright so I ended up with bad photos. I hope I didn’t make them worse with the ‘soft glow’ filter I made. Comments welcome.
So here goes. What you need is:
A good bunch of simpur leaves. While you can substitute this with the banana leaf, I highly recommend the simpur because it lends the dish a subtle and unique flavor. Most households are within easy reach of the simpur since it is the Bruneian national plant, but if not, you can get this at the market or any tamu.
We grow our own so whenever we feel like having this dish, we just reach out of the kitchen window! Hee. I strongly recommend everyone to grow a simpur plant in their gardens. You never know when you might need them!
Fresh tengiri steaks. These are not that fresh as there was a storm the night before and fishermen were not encouraged to go out to sea, but the flesh is still quite translucent so it’s still okay.
Tengiri is mackerel if I am not mistaken.
To find out whether you’re buying fresh fish or not, check the flesh to see that it’s firm, the eyes are clear and not sunken and they don’t smell fishy.
Some good ole salty salt.
1. First, wash your daun simpur with a wet cloth and remove the thick bone in the middle for easy folding.
2. Then, rub the tengiri steaks with a generous amount of salt.
3. Lay down some foil, and put the daun simpur on top of it.
4. (Optional step) If you like, you can drop a few pieces of asam kulit to add a bit of tang, but the fish will taste yummy enough without it.
5. Place the tengiri right in the middle of the daun simpur and again, if desired, place some asam kulit on top of the fishy flesh.
7. Fold the leaf carefully around the fish.
8. Secure the leaf by wrapping it with foil.
9. Seal to prevent the juices from leaking.
10. Cook it on the stove or chuck it in the grill for about 15 minutes.
The end product, after the foil has been removed, will look like this. Careful when removing the foil. Escaping steam may scald you (speaking from experience).
The fish will have an amazing white colour, and you can totally taste the freshness of the fish. The daun simpur imparts a special flavor that is both subtle yet distinct, complimenting the sweet white flesh of the fish.
I’m a purist so I like the fish eaten plain with steaming white rice, but some people prefer condiments such as chilli and lime to enhance the taste of the fish. The recipe is perfect for weekend home meals when everyone just feels like laying back and relaxing as it’s just sooo easy.
By the way, no need for cutlery, best eaten with clean bare hands! Have a try!