We travelled through South East Asia 10 years ago and did a few cooking classes along the way. We learned to make this banana leaf wrapped fish dish in Vietnam, and it’s one of the things that I remember vividly! The beautiful fresh herby aromas that jump out at you when you open the banana leaf parcel is absolutely mouth-watering! Just thinking about it, makes me hungry 😉
You can make this in the oven, but it also works like magic on the braai.
For 2 portions, you will need:
- 500g fresh fish (I used hake, but any firm fish will do)
- handful of cilantro
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 small chilli (you can of course spice things up more if you like)
- zest and juice of 1 lime
- thumb-size piece of fresh garlic, peeled
- 1 tbsp grapeseed or coconut oil
- 1 large banana leaf*
- wet cotton string
- chopped spring onion
* I have a banana tree growing in the corner of my garden. I am amazed that it survived the drought, but it seems to be very happy, albeit fruitless.
To prep the banana leaf, cut away the shaft so that you are left only with the soft part of the leaf. You can even use 2 strips placed over each over if your leaf is not big enough. Wipe it down with a clean cloth to remove any dirt.
Use a food processor to make a marinade with the herbs, chilli, garlic, lime juice and zest, salt and oil. Add coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Place the fish in the centre of the banana leaf. Then spoon the marinade over the fish. Fold the back and front parts of the banana leaf over the fish, and then the right and left to create a parcel. Tie the leaf in place with a piece of string**.
** If you are braaiing your fish, make sure that the cotton remains wet so that it doesn’t catch fire.
Place the banana leaf parcel on a baking tray and cook for about 30 minutes.
To serve, cut the string and gently open up the banana leaf parcel and sprinkle with chopped spring onion. Serve with lime wedges, coconut rice, and grilled pineapple slices for a truly tropical feast!