In the realm of Indonesian cuisine, “pepes” isn’t actually a specific dish, but rather a cooking method!

Meaning: Pepes is a traditional cooking method used throughout Indonesia, particularly in regions like Java, Bali, and Sumatra. It’s a fantastic way to preserve food as the banana leaves create a natural seal, locking in moisture and flavors. Pepes is also a convenient and portable meal option, perfect for picnics or bringing to gatherings.

The marinated ingredients are wrapped tightly in banana leaves (sometimes other leaves like papaya leaves or teakwood leaves are used). These parcels are then steamed or grilled over charcoal until cooked through. Pepes unfolds to reveal a fragrant and flavorful dish, often with the banana leaves imparting a subtle smoky aroma.

Fun Fact: The beauty of pepes lies in its versatility. You can use almost any protein or vegetable as the main ingredient. Popular choices include fish, chicken, tofu, mushrooms, or even jackfruit. These are then marinated in a vibrant spice paste typically containing chilies, shallots, garlic, galangal, turmeric, and other local herbs and spices. Some variations might add coconut milk for extra richness.