Banana Leaf Fish Parcels
Author: Shelley Bennetts Date Posted:13 May 2019
Catch a fish, spice it up, wrap it in banana leaves and cook on the barbie!
What could be better than fillets of juicy fish, coated in fiery spices and aromatic herbs, wrapped in a banana leaf parcel, and grilled on the BBQ?
Oh yes, be prepared to impress!
Ingredients (for 4 generous serves, or 8 tasters)
750 g snapper fillets (this will work nicely with any firm white-fleshed fish)
Fresh banana leaves for wrapping (substitute foil if you absolutely must)
Toothpicks or kebab sticks for fastening
2 lemongrass stalks
1 head garlic
10 – 20 dry Thai chillies
½ kaffir lime peel
2 tsp Turmeric Paste
1 tsp salt
To add to each packet:
2 kaffir lime leaves
Handful of sweet basil leaves
Handful of lemon basil leaves
Prepare your Banana leaves
Banana leaves are a sustainable and natural way to cook foods so you don’t have to use foil. In sub-tropical areas of Australia, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a supply of fresh banana leaves. Some Asian supermarkets have prepared leaves available. If all else fails, you’ll have to use foil, but it does detract from the appeal of this dish.
Choose an undamaged bright green, fresh banana leaf to cut from the tree. Lay the leaf on a flat surface and cut the leaf away from its central stem with a sharp knife. They are very fragile and can be torn easily. You want two pieces per parcel that are about 30 – 40 cm square. Carefully wipe these down with a damp cloth to get all the dust and dirt off. Stack them up, ready to use.
Make your spice paste
Peel the garlic, shallots, shave the lime peel, and cut the white part of the lemon grass into smallish chunks.
You can use a food processor or a mortar and pestle to make the paste. The mortar and pestle method will take some pounding time but is the more authentic method.
You’re aiming for a coarse paste. Start with the dry chillies and salt followed by the fresh chillies and then the rest of the ingredients.
Prepare your fish
Cut the snapper fillets into smaller pieces, about matchbox size. Place into a small bowl and add the spice paste. Get in with your hands to evenly coat each piece of fish. (wash your hands thoroughly to avoid burning from the chillies!) Put aside.
Assemble your parcels
Have your banana leaves, prepared fish, spice mix and kaffir and basil leaves ready.
Keeping the shiny green side down, the white side up, take two banana leaf pieces, place them on top of each other.
To the centre of each base, add a generous handful of basil leaves, a couple of kaffir lime leaves and a portion of the spiced fish.
Gently fold the sides up and over the filling and do the same with the ends to make your parcel.
Take a toothpick or two and fasten the banana leaf together like a sewing stitch, making sure you poke through both sides of the banana leaf.
For the grilling, you want about a medium heat. No flames, but quite hot coals. For a gas grill, I’d say medium high would work best.
Grill the packets for a couple of minutes on the first side, and then flip them over. The outer banana leaf will blister up and begin to blacken.
The fish inside will be protected, and all that smoky roasted flavor will transfer to the fish.
Keep flipping fish packages for about 10 minutes, then check one to see how well it’s cooking.
Take care when unwrapping the parcels as the juices inside will be piping hot.
The aroma will be divine. It will be oozing with juice and the fish will flake away easily when touched with a fork.
Serve with Thai sticky rice or aromatic steamed Basmati rice.
This recipe can be adapted for chicken or pork mince.