Balinese Fish Head Soup

Balinese Fish Head Soup

Balinese Fish Head Soup

prepared with bumbu gede

Fish heads are a delicacy in Indonesia. In Bali the fish head is cooked in a savoury yet refreshing soup.

Today’s recipe is using the traditional Balinese bumbu gede, which consists of: green tomatoes, lemongrass and freshly squeezed lime, this gives the soup a refreshing aroma that replaces the fishy smell of the fish head.

If using a fish head makes you a little squeamish, you can replace it with prawns or fish fillets.
But nothing compares to the flavors of flesh that can only be found on the head of the fish.

Give it a go!

You can read my article about Fish Head Soup by clicking here

Will Meyrick




Main Ingredients

  • 1 fish head
  • 1 cup bumbu gede (see sub recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind juice to marinade the fish head
  • 1 liter fish stock
  • 4 pieces red bird’s eye chillies, bruised
  • 1 medium green tomato, sliced
  • 1 medium red tomato, sliced
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, bruised
  • 2 pieces salam leaves
  • 2 pieces lime leaves



  • Salt to taste
  • White pepper powder to taste
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind juice

Finishing Ingredients

  • 1 wedge green tomato, sliced
  • 1 wedge red tomato, sliced
  • ½ long red chilli, sliced
  • 3 sprigs fresh Thai basil

Bumbu Gede

  • 3 knobs galangal, peeled
  • 1 knob turmeric, peeled
  • 4 small knobs kencur, peeled
  • 1 knob ginger, peeled
  • 10 pieces lemongrass
  • 2 pieces red chilli
  • 4 pieces shallot
  • ½ cup garlic
  • 3 pieces candlenut
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried shrimp paste
  • 4 pieces long pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 10 tablespoons wewangen
  • 2 pieces salam leaves


Roast the dry spices together and grind to a fine powder.

Roughly chop the rest of the fresh ingredients, dried

shrimp paste and candlenut, except salam leaves.

Blend or pound in a mortar and pestle, until you have a medium fine paste.

Then fry out the paste with oil and salam leaves until fragrant.


lime cheek
sprigs of Thai basil

Step by Step Instructions

step 1 : marinade

Marinade the fish head with half of the bumbu gede and tamarind juice for 20 minutes – 1 hour.

step 2 : cooking

Meanwhile boil the fish stock in a sauce pan and then add in the marinated fish head and another half of the bumbu gede.

step 3 : seasoning

Then add in bruised red bird’s eye chillies, sliced green and red tomato, bruised lemongrass, salam leaves and lime leaves.

step 4 : simmering

Cover the sauce pan with lid and continue to simmer for 20 minutes.

step 5 : finishing

* When the fish head is cooked around 20 minutes and to finish add in a little bit more of sliced green and red tomato, sliced long red chilli, fresh lemon basil and add seasonings, fresh lime juice, salt, white pepper and tamarind juice.

step 6 : stiring

* Stir for a while and ready for plating.

ngiring ngajeng dumun

Bon appetit!