Bali birthday barbecue feast – fit for a queen

I love birthdays. Without any dread of the coming year, I lured my friends with the promise of travel, food and music and convinced them to fly to Bali in celebration of my 30th year.  With that, one day was stretched out to resemble a Hindu wedding or ceremonious feast.

We settle at Pemuteran, a small fishing and diving village at the top of Bali in the north. Tourists are here, but only by the handful.

We’ve rented a spectacular villa called Jeda Villa at the base of the mountains, overlooking the sea.
Bali Pemuteran Jeda Villa

My friends throw me a party, with our villa cook pulling together a Balinese menu of epic proportions.
Party at Jeda Villa Pemuteran Bali

I watch them prepare the feast while furiously taking recipe notes, as they prepare simple marinades for freshly caught snapper, prawns and chicken.
Balinese grilled snapper

Everything here comes with fiery sambal and each restaurant’s recipe is different. Some recipes resemble Mexican fresh tomato salsas with lemongrass, while others are cooked down chilies thickened to a paste.
Balinese barbecue

In the theme of my two loves: food and music, the guys gave me a birthday dance to Stevie Wonder’s ‘Happy Birthday’ as we rocked out to our favorite tunes.  A beautiful night had by all.

This recipe is of one of my favourite Balinese foods, fish satay (sate lillit).  Try to find thick skewers like in the photo as they are better for wrapping the fish mixture around.
Balinese fish satay recipe

Recipe – Balinese Fish Satay (Sate Lillit)

300gm of boneless, firm white fish
1tbsp dessicated coconut
3 lemongrass stalks, finely diced
2 shallots, finely diced
2-3 chillies, finely diced
1 tbsp Indonesian soy sauce
1 tbsp white sugar
Thick skewers to wrap around, soaked
Oil, for grilling

Chop the lemongrass, garlic, shallots and chilli.  Lightly toast the desiccated coconut and set aside.  Using a cleaver, coarsely chop the fish until it looks like a coarse mince.  In a bowl, add coconut, fish mixture, lemongrass, garlic, shallots and chilli.  Add the sugar and soy.  Mix together using your hands, working the protein until it all comes together.

Grab a handful of the mixture, work into a ball.  Flatten the ball in the palm of your hand, put the skewer in the middle and work the mixture around the skewer.  Use some oil on your hands if you need to.

Refrigerate for an hour.

When ready to cook, use a banana leaf or foil to put over the barbecue so that you don’t cook it over direct heat.  Cook over a low heat, turning as needed.  Awesome party food fit for a Balinese queen!


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