Temptation of Balinese mixed rice with spicy fish
Passing along Jl. Bypass Ngurah Rai heading toward Nusa Dua, there’s the simple Sari Mertha food stall, next to the gas station in Bualu area, which you just shouldn’t ignore.
Although it only has one item on its specialty menu, Balinese mixed rice with spicy fish, the food stall, which was established 12 years ago by former gym instructor Komang Wirama, is never empty of visitors, which includes local workers, tourguides and foreign tourists. What is special about this food is that it uses tuna as its main ingredient, which is then transformed into various dishes served in small portions on the plate.
The overall meal comprises steamed rice, sate lilit (minced fish satay), sate tusuk tuna (tuna satay), perkedel goreng ikan (fish cake), perkedel jagung (corn fritters), sweet-hot stirfried fish, mixed vegetables and hot sambal (chili-based condiment), plus a bowl of hot fish soup on the side.
The sate lilit, which can be easily recognized by its flat bamboo stick, is made of finely chopped fish mixed with grated coconut, garlic, red onion, lemongrass, turmeric, chili and salt. After being wrapped around the flat bamboo stick, the sate lilit at this particular food stall is fried, instead of being grilled, to add a twist to its taste and to make it last.
The fish soup contains small chopped fish boiled in water mixed with various spices and is very tasty.
The second type of satay served on the plate is the sweet and spicy sate tusuk tuna. The owner said he invented this tuna satay by mixing the fish with Balinese traditional spices, which usually taste salty, along with the sweetness of brown sugar, granulated sugar, garlic and chili, which is all grilled to a glossy brown color.
Wirama said he had invented the dish out of curiosity to see what happened when combining two contrasting dominant flavors: hot and sweet. The food stall also offers two kinds of vegetable dishes to complete the meal, urap sayur, boiled vegetables mixed with grated coconut, or stir-fried cabbage and long beans.
The food stall opens from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and offers its specialty menu at Rp 10,000 (US$1.07).
Customers can also separately purchase the fish satay, which is tagged at Rp 800 per stick, and the fish soup at Rp 3,000.