Baked Fish in Banana Leaf
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As a noob cook, I always think that food wrapped in packages (like in foil, pandan leaves, and in this case – banana leaves) look somewhat professional. So when I saw this recipe in a cookbook for a banana wrapped baked fish, I thought this was a great chance for a noob like me to fake being a pro ;p I love recipes that are simple, yet they look as if they are not that easy to make. Despite the ‘pro-ness’ of appearance of this dish (to me, anyway), this recipe is actually delightfully simple, because of the minimal of ingredients used. And I’ve always loved my fish dishes simple so that the ingredients used help to enhance the taste and freshness of the fish, but not mask it.
The marinade only calls for 3 simple ingredients of soy sauce, ginger juice and lime juice. As a special touch I rubbed a little bit of the hottest chilli powder ever I bought from Bangkok to spice things up just a little bit. The banana leaf gives a nice aroma to the baked fish, but you can always use aluminium foil to wrap the fish instead if banana leaf is unavailable.
Recipe adapted from Heavenly Fragrance: Cooking With Aromatic Asian Herbs, Spices, Fruits and Seasonings by Carol Selva Rajah
– 1 whole fresh fish (I used red snapper in the photo above)
– 1 large banana leaf sheet (or aluminium foil)
– 1 1/2 tbsp ginger juice
– 1 1/2 to 2 tbsp light soy sauce
– 1 tsp lime juice
– dash of white pepper
– chilli powder (optional – if you want it spicy)
1. Scale, gut and clean the fish thoroughly. Make a few diagonal slits on each side of the fish. Pat dry with paper towels.
2. Peel the ginger skin, then grate the ginger, squeezing the juice from the grated fresh ginger. You need approx. 1 1/2 tbsp of ginger juice.
3. Make the marinade by combining the ginger juice, light soy sauce, lime juice and white pepper in a bowl and mix well. Brush both sides of the fish with the marinade. Marinade for at least 1 hour or more.
4. Heat up a sheet of banana leaf (make sure no holes) either by placing it on top of a heated pan or oven for a few minutes, or rinsed in boiling water. This softens the leaf and also releases the aroma.
5. Place the heated banana leaf in a baking tray (in case the juices seep out, which it will). Place the fish in the center of the leaf and pour the marinade over. If you want a slight spiciness, you can rub some chilli powder on both sides of the skin. Fold both sides of the package to the center, securing it with toothpicks. Alternatively (easier way), you can also use both pieces of banana leaves to form the top and bottom, and secure the sides with toothpicks.
6. Bake the fish for about 10-15 minutes in a preheated oven of 170C (350C), or until cooked.
Cooking foods in banana leaves is quite common in Asian cooking but they may not be so familar for those living in other parts of the world. So I am submitting this banana leaf wrapped baked fish to Weekend Herb Blogging which is hosted by Paulchen’s Foodblog this week.