Grilled Squids in Sweet Soy Sauce

Grilled Squids in Sweet Soy Sauce

Grilled squids or 'Cumi Bakar' is a sweet and tangy seafood dish that is often sold as street food in Indonesia. It is marinated in sweet soy sauce and a mixture of spices before being grilled. These tender grilled squids are usually served together with rice or as an appetizer.

5 stars

Preparation 10 mins
Cooking 8 mins

Side, Appetizer

cumi bakar

Indonesian, Malay

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Nutrition per Serving

623 kcal
55 g
11 g
78 g

Grilled squid dishes are well sought after in countries blessed with fresh seafood such as Indonesia. In this Southeast Asian country, grilled squid is known as cumi bakar in the native language. The main ingredient of this dish is kicap manis or sweet soy sauce which has a consistency comparable to honey. Blending the aromatics along with the sauce enhances the wonderful aroma. The mild savoury flavour and sweetness makes the grilled squids so addictive and appetizing.

Is this dish spicy?

Not at all! However, the seeds and membranes of the chillies need to be removed before blending. You can check out Step 1 of the ‘How to Prepare’ section to see how it is done here. That will reduce the spiciness. Besides, the sweetness of the kicap manis will help to tone down the spiciness too.

Indonesian Grilled Squid
Indonesian Grilled Squid

What is kicap manis?

Kicap manis or kecap manis is a wonderful condiment which is sweet unlike the usual salty flavours in soy sauce. Originally from Indonesia, kicap manis makes a great addition to the spices. Get them at your nearest Asian grocer or local supermarkets if you are in Southeast Asia.

Blend spices finely

Most of the spices and aromatics such as garlic, shallots and chillies are soft and tender. They blend and cook easily. However, ginger and lemon grass especially take longer to be finely blended. Biting onto chunks of ginger or lemon grass may not be pleasant to many. If you do not have a sharp blender, pound the tip of the lemon grass as shown here in step 3 of the ‘How to Prepare’ section. You may marinate and then grill the squids along with the bruised lemon grass.

Duration to marinate squids

Squids do not need to be marinated for a long time. It is suggested to leave the squids in the marinade for 20 minutes. If you are rushing for time, immediately grill the squids after mixing them evenly with the marinade. During the grilling process, remember to continue basting the squids with the marinade to ensure the flavours are locked into the dish.

Cumi Bakar
Cumi Bakar

Preparing marinade in advance

Freezing the delicious marinade will help in preserving it for up to 3 months. It is best to freeze the marinade on its own without the squids, of course. Freezing them together will cause excess water to be released into the marinade.


fresh chilli (red)
chilli peppers (dried)
garlic clove(s)
lemongrass stalk(s)
1⁄2 tbsp
1⁄2 tbsp
turmeric (fresh)
1⁄2 cup
sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
1 tbsp
tamarind pulp
1 tbsp
1⁄2 tsp
1 tbsp
palm sugar (gula melaka)
squid (fresh)
1⁄2 tbsp

Steps to Prepare

Grilled Squids in Sweet Soy Sauce Step 1

Step 1 of 4

Remove seeds and membranes of both types of chillies to reduce the spiciness. Then, remove the skin of the shallots, garlic cloves, ginger and turmeric. Use only the bottom part of the lemongrass.

Grilled Squids in Sweet Soy Sauce Step 2

Step 2 of 4

    • 1⁄2 cup sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
    • 1 tbsp tamarind pulp
    • 1 tbsp water
    • 1⁄2 tsp salt
    • 1 tbsp palm sugar (gula melaka)

Add water to tamarind pulp. Once tamarind pulp softens, use a fork to press them. Set aside. Blend dried and fresh chillies along with turmeric, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, shallots and palm sugar finely. Add tamarind extract without the seeds and sweet soy sauce into the blended ingredients.

Grilled Squids in Sweet Soy Sauce Step 3

Step 3 of 4

    • 10 squid (fresh)

Clean squids by removing the innards. Optionally, rub the skin off the squids. Then, lay it down sideways to make midway cuts. Rinse under cold running water. Pat dry with kitchen paper before mixing them with the marinade. Let it sit for about 20 minutes before grilling.

Grilled Squids in Sweet Soy Sauce Step 4

Step 4 of 4

    • 1⁄2 tbsp oil

Heat pan or grill over medium heat. If using a pan, add some oil. Lay squids on the pan or grill. Grill them evenly on all sides. Continue basting them with marinade. Squids are ready when the cuts begin to curl.

Published: August 11, 2019

4 Discussions

2 years ago


Made this. Everyone in the family loved. Btw, do u think I can try this recipe with prawns or chicken? Still have extra marinade in the fridge

2 years ago


Glad they did! :D You can use this recipe with any meat of your choice. I find that it works best with squid and prawns. I'm sure chicken is fine too. By the way, you should give the Five Spice Chicken recipe a try. Exceptionally good and easy! Oh, do upload a food snap on your profile if you have a photo.

2 years ago


Tx! Much, Grace. Will give prawns a try. Definitely, will try the five spice chicken, too.

3 years ago


Thank you for sharing. I surprised hubby cos it's his fav and he loves it! :)

3 years ago


Thank you for sharing! Tried it last night and everyone love it!

Sharon Temple
4 years ago

Sharon Temple

This looks incredible. I can’t wait to make it. The family will love this. Thanks for sharing.

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