Welcome back to Bali! Last time, we mentioned that, believe it or not, it’s actually pretty difficult to find true Balinese food in Bali.
Welcome back to Bali! Last time, we mentioned that, believe it or not, it’s actually pretty difficult to find true Balinese food in Bali. Much of what’s found in restaurants is actually Indonesian and Chinese food.
So unless your great aunt is Balinese or you’re here during a festival season, you’re pretty much stuck on open water without a paddle when it comes to finding local sea fare.
The Galungan Festival is the prime example of the right time and place to experience true Balinese gastronomic art. It’s Bali’s major feast and is celebrated all throughout the island. It’s a 10-day celebration held between Galungan and Kuningan, the first and last days of the festival.
During this time, all of the gods come down to Earth to revel in the good times. Ready for some seafood fit for the gods themselves?
There are tons of different options, among them:
Be Pasih Mepanggang, a marinated grilled fish
Pesan Be Pasih, fish grilled in banana leaves
Tambusan Be Pasih, diced fish roasted in banana leaves
Kenus Mebase Bali, squid in coconut milk
Udang Pantung Kuning, lobster in yellow sauceNext time, we’ll talk about other ways to tap into Bali’s local culture.
Surprisingly, Indonesian people (the Balinese included) eat with little fanfare. They’re a snacking people. They generally take the equivalent of an apple and a bag of onion-flavored ring chips for lunch and then go on about their business.
You’re probably thinking: BUT THIS IS AN ARTICLE ABOUT ENJOYING SEAFOOD!
Don’t worry! There are plenty of tasty seafood options to explore. And explore we will!
But first, let’s talk about where Bali lives on our planet. It’s part of Indonesia, an archipelagic nation (that’s SAT-ese for this place is in an island string that’s all surrounded by water!). So, you can sure bet there’s some delicious seafood lurking in her depths that will spend its afterlife both on your plate and in your stomach.
Bali is located in the far west end of the Indonesian Archepelago. With a population reaching for 4 million, it is the largest tourist destination in the country and is renowned for its highly developed arts, which include traditional and modern dance, sculpture, painting, leather and metalworking, and music. Oh, and did I mention SEAFOOD?
Seafood is enjoyed across Indonesia. It’s prepared using many different methods: bakar (grilled), rebus (boiled), or goreng (fried). Stir-frying in spices or soup is also common. Popular seafood in Indonesian gastronomy includes mackerel, tuna, wahoo, milkfish, red snapper, anchovy, cuttlefish, shrimp, crab, and mussels.
Available seafood isn’t limited to the salt waters, either. Freshwater fisheries are also common and can be found in inland regions or areas with large rivers or lakes. Popular freshwater fish include carp, gourami, snakehead, tilapia, catfish, and pangasius (a shark catfish).
It’s important to note that there’s a big difference between Indonesian cooking customs (what we’ve talked about above) and true Balinese cooking. The reason it’s relevant is that much of the seafood found in Bali’s many restaurants is actually prepared according to broader Indonesian and Chinese traditions. If you really want to get your mouth around some delicious local cuisine, stay with locals or visit during a festival.
More on how to really eat like a Balinese local next time.