Payeh Bileh Recipe (Spiced Anchovies Wrapped in Banana Leaves – Aceh Style)

Payeh Bileh is one of Aceh style side dishes that is made from anchovies and spice up with numbers different herbs before wrapping them in banana leaves. There are many other different kinds name of pepes in Indonesia depend on the area. Pepes is a cooking technique employing banana leaf for wrapping and widely use in Indonesia. Brengkesan in Javanese, Brengkes in South Sumatra, Pais in Sundanese, Palai in Minangkabau, and Payeh in Acehnese.

I mentioned on my previous post on my Curry Leaves post that Acehnese food has more influenced from Southern Indian food compare to other regions in Indonesia. There is one ingredient here that is speciality to Aceh dishes, asam sunti. By giving the name asam, it means sour and made from dried bilimbi. If you don’t have any asam sunti, just add more bilimbi (Averrhoa bilimbi or kamias in Tagalog. For those who are not familiar with bilimbi, please check out my Tart or Sour Flavourings in Indonesian Cooking post and wikipedia

Payeh Bileh Recipe
Aceh Style Spiced Anchovies Wrapped in Banana Leaves

Ingredients:
454 grams (1lb) frozen anchovies, thawed
1 ½ teaspoons fresh squeezed calamansi
seasalt
6 bilimbi, angle cut
2 ½ tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
5 shallots (double up the amount if you use smaller size like the ones in Indonesia), finely sliced
2 tablespoons ground lemongrass
6 kaffir lime leaves, remove the midribs and chopped
3 sprigs curry leaves, take the leaves
banana leaves to wrap

Spice Paste:
15 pieces asam sunti (dried bilimbi)
5 long red cayenne pepper *
5 bird eyes chilies*
4 shallots (double up the amount if you use smaller size like the ones in Indonesia)
4 cloves garlic
2.5-centimeters (1-inch) fresh turmeric root, peeled
4-centimeters (1.5-inches) ginger, scrapped

Method:
1. Combine anchovies with calamansi juice and seasalt. Set a side.
2. With a mortar and pestle or food processor, pound/grind red cayenne pepper, bird eyes chilies, shallots, garlic, turmeric, ginger and asam sunti into a paste.
3. Fry slices of shallot with extra virgin coconut oil.
4. Combine anchovies mixture with spice paste, fried shallots, chopped kaffir lime leaves, ground lemongrass and curry leaves.
5. Place 1/3 cup of spiced anchovies mixture on the centre of banana leaves. Wrap and secure the edges with toothpicks. Repeat this step until all mixture is used up.
6. Steam for 30 minutes. Broil or grill until you can smell the aroma.

*The amount of chili peppers can be reduced to your liking.

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An Indonesian born who lives on the Prairie land of Canada. Indonesia Eats is a memoir of her homeland.