Blackened snapper with colo colo sambal


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia

Fire Islands

By Eleanor Ford

Published 2019

  • About

The deep seas surrounding the Spice Islands in Eastern Indonesia have the best fish you could hope to eat anywhere. Malukun people know that only the simplest cooking is needed for spectacular results. Fresh from the water, whole red snappers are grilled, usually over coconut embers, until charred and smoky-sweet. A wonderfully vibrant tomato sambal is spooned over for a fresh kick.


  • 1 whole red snapper or bream (about 600 g/1 lb 5 oz), gutted, cleaned and scaled
  • 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Colo colo sambal

  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 small red Asian shallots, chopped
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies, seeded and sliced
  • 2 sprigs lemon basil, leaves chopped
  • 2 tablespoons kecap manis
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice


Slash the fish on the diagonal to make three or four slits on each side. Halve the lime and cut one half into slivers. Rub the turmeric and a pinch of salt into the fish and stuff the lime pieces into the slits. Tuck any remaining pieces into the cavity along with a little more salt. Squeeze over the remaining lime juice then brush the fish with oil. Set aside whilst you make the sambal.

Combine all the ingredients for the colo colo sambal and taste for seasoning. You are after a fresh and punchy sauce with a salsa-like consistency.

Preheat a griddle pan or barbecue. Cook the fish without moving for about 7-10 minutes until the skin is charred and the fish inside the slits on the lower side looks white and flaky. Carefully turn with a wide spatula, trying not to tear the skin, and cook the other side for 7-10 minutes. Serve with the colo colo sambal spooned over the top.