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Ikan Nila Bakar - Broiled Tilapia

Ikan bakar (grilled fish) is one of my favorite food. In Indonesia, there are many restaurants specializing in seafood dishes, and the first thing I will order will definitely be ikan bakar :)

In such places, all the grilling is done in a charcoal griller in an open kitchen usually at the front of the restaurant, the idea being the wafting smell will entice customers into waking into the restaurant.

At home though, I don’t own a charcoal griller, so I usually resort to making my ikan bakar with a broiler in an oven. It is good enough, especially when I am feeling homesick and my last proper ikan bakar is years ago!

Ikan Nila Bakar - Broiled Tilapia
Ikan Nila Bakar - Broiled Tilapia

I know that eating a whole fish can be a shocking experience for some, but you are guaranteed to be served one if you order ikan bakar in a restaurant.

At home, I usually use fish fillet since it is easier, and my family is happier when they don’t see a whole fish staring at them. Actually, they have no qualm seeing a whole fish in a platter, but they hate having to pick through the bones, haha :)

Ikan Nila Bakar - Broiled Tilapia

5.0 from 3 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson




Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 10 mins

Total Time: 25 mins

Serves: 4

Print Recipe


  • 500 gram tilapia fillets (Indonesian: filet ikan nila)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • tamarind juice (from 1 teaspoon tamarind + 2 tablespoon warm water, mix well, strained)
  • 4 tablespoon Indonesian sweet soy sauce (Indonesian: kecap manis)
  • Grind the following together into spice paste
  • 6-10 red cayenne chilies
  • 50 gram shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch ginger


  1. Rub tilapia fillets with the rest of the ingredients and marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge. Return to room temperature before broiling.
  2. Preheat broiler and line a baking tray with aluminum foil. Transfer tilapia fillets to the prepared tray.
  3. Broil each side for 3-4 minutes, until slightly charred. Baste with marinate while broiling.
  4. Serve immediately with steamed white rice.
Indonesian Pantry
Indonesian Kitchen


  • Anita Anita says:

    I've tried this. And the result is superb. I finally capable to cook delicious ikan bakar. Thanks a lot!

    • Anita Anita says:

      Thanks for the feedback. :) We have the same name!

  • Milky Milky says:

    (Wow, sometimes I wonder why I bother to review when I changed it so much??)

    I made this with halibut. I also felt sooo lazy so I substituted fresh for dry spices: 1 tsp garlic powder and a Tbsp each ginger and cayenne powder, plus minced onion instead of making a proper spice paste.

    Broiled it for those little black bits- very appealing indeed... Got some rice, took a bite- definitely brought me back to an Indonesian seafood experience from years ago... But then realized I forgot the kecap manis! Arg! I just drizzled some on top afterward hahahaha

    Even still, the heat and flavor profile were great. Although nothing compares to using the freshest of fresh (and not forgetting ingredients...) a decent fish can be quite forgiving. Very delicious, even by desperate measures lol

    • Anita Anita says:

      No worries, Milky. Now I know I can still make this dish when my kitchen is running out of fresh ingredients and I'm too lazy to grocery shop. :)

  • Lany Susanto Lany Susanto says:

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