Queen of Ubud Janet DeNeefe’s Kintamani Fish Soup

Janet DeNeefe - Queen of Ubud
Janet DeNeefe

Cook and author

Feb 06, 2023

Bali has been home to Janet DeNeefe – or The Queen of Ubud – as she is fondly nicknamed – for over 20 years. This talented cook, restauranteur, author, artist, literary festival director, wife, mother, and practicing Hindu shares some of her favourite Indonesian-inspired recipes with us. 

One weekend, Laksmi, my daughter, and I had planned a day out. During the morning, we chatted about where we would go and, more importantly, where we would eat! Our excitement was rising, but then we were suddenly informed we had to attend a baby ceremony in Kintamani and had to put our adventure by the wayside. We set off with a car-load of family members and after a long and uncomfortable drive in a tight sarong, we finally arrived at the ceremony. Now there are two things that will shake me out of a bad mood: one is babies and the other is good food, not necessarily in that order, and this cosy home both had pleasures awaiting. 

As soon as I arrived I snatched the cute baby out of the mother’s arms and sat smugly with the little creature on my lap. She didn’t blink an eyelid when she saw I was a ‘hello’, or a foreigner, and seemed perfectly content with her Aussie auntie’s strange accent. Then, we were beckoned to eat. Kintamani is famous for the fish called mujair, which is caught in Lake Batur. It is used to make this light, refreshing soup (amongst other things) that is one of Bali’s most delicious and divine broths.Imagine sweet white fish simmered in gentle spices laden with lemongrass, as seductive as love in the tropics. I ate one bowl and then another. And then I asked for the recipe!

Serves 6 – 8

1.2 kg snapper fillets or other firm white fish, cut into 6 large pieces
1 tablespoon lime juice
sea salt
1 litre water
3 lemongrass stalks, bruised and tied in knots
3 kaffir lime leaves
3 salam leaves
3 tomatoes, cut into 4 or 6 pieces each
2 teaspoons tamarind pulp
1 tablespoon grated palm sugar
white pepper

Spice Paste
2 red shallots, roughly chopped
5 long red chillies, seeded and roughly chopped
2 small red chillies, roughly chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons chopped galangal
1 tablespoon chopped fresh turmeric
3 teaspoons chopped ginger
3 teaspoons coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste

Put the fish in a bowl and coat with the lime juice and 2 teaspoons of salt. Leave for 30 minutes. Blitz the spices in a food processor with a little water if necessary to get the mixture moving.
Bring the water to the boil in a large saucepan then add the spice paste, lemongrass, lime leaves and salam leaves. Boil for 5 minutes, then add the fish, tomato, tamarind, palm sugar and salt. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.

The Carousel thanks BALI The Food of my Island Home

Click here for more delicious soup recipes!


By Janet DeNeefe

Cook and author

Cook, restauranteur, author, artist, literary festival director, wife, mother, and practicing Hindu - Janet is a one-woman powerhouse and fondly named 'The Queen of Ubud' in beautiful Bali. Take a culinary journey with the humble and inspiring Janet as she shares her love of Indonesian-inspired food with The Carousel



The Carousel