Steamed Fish in Banana Leaf Boats


Just like the coconut tree, every part of the banana tree is useful. Banana leaves serve many purposes in Asian cooking. Banana leaves are beautiful, fun to use and easy to cook with. They look gorgeous, fresh with vibrant green, can be simply used to add color and display an exotic background for eco-friendly serving plates and party platters. Whenever I see a banana tree or see the leaves stacked for sale in the vegetable market, my mind runs riot with great ideas to use them.

Today’s recipe is interesting and fun with banana leaves. A banana leaf makes a fragrant and convenient fish steaming packet. Do you remember the origami classes in school? Did you enjoy them? Then converting a banana leaf into a beautiful looking boat using your origami skills will definitely make you feel good and remind you of your craft classes in school.

These banana boats are so flexible in any recipe which calls for baking, steaming or grilling. They are perfect for serving up all kinds of Asian themed preparations including salads, sea food, rice (especially coconut rice or sticky rice) and desserts.

I made this simple but elegant steamed fish in these cute and pretty banana boats which was so delicious. It tasted yummy with just a few spices and seasoning. It was so fresh and fragrant and did not need any sauces. The fish was delicately flavored and paired well with the noodles. The preparation of this steamed fish in banana leaf boats is so very simple and easy. It is ideal for children as well as the elderly. You need to just reduce the ginger and garlic or eliminate the chillies depending on the spice tolerance. 😀

Ingredients :

  • 4 x 30 cm. squares of banana leaves (blanched) for the boats
  • 6 Black Pomfret Fillets (Halwa)
  • ¼ tsp. fresh Ginger-Garlic paste
  • 4 cloves fresh Garlic (finely minced)
  • ¼ tsp. fresh Ginger (peeled & finely sliced or grated/minced)
  • 1 tsp. fresh Lime Juice /Vinegar
  • 1/3 tsp. Turmeric pwd.
  • 2 tbsps. fresh Carrots (peeled & julienned)
  • 2 tbsps. Cabbage (thinly sliced)
  • 2 fresh Green Chilles (minced)
  • 2 tbsps. Sesame Oil/Olive Oil/Cooking Oil
  • A sprinkling of Pepper pwd.
  • Salt to taste
  • Water as required

Garnishing Suggestions :
Freshly chopped coriander leaves, spring onion greens, lemon wedges, basil leaves, finely sliced chillies.

Procedure :
Marinate washed and drained fillets of fish with ginger-garlic paste, turmeric pwd, lime juice, and salt for about 15-20 mins.

Arrange each marinated fish fillet in prepared banana leaf boats and place in a casserole or plate.

Top each fillet with some sliced ginger, minced garlic, julienned carrots, sliced cabbage, sprinkle pepper and green chillies.

Add about 2 tbsps. of water in each banana leaf boat or as required.

Steam for about 20-25 mins. or until done.

Just before serving transfer the contents to fresh banana leaf boats.

Serve with any of your favorite garnish suggested above.

Tips & Suggestions :

  1. It is important to blanch the banana leaves to make them pliable for folding into boats.
  2. Banana leaves are porous and tend to leak. To prevent this, double the thickness of the boats (cut out two rectangles for each boat). Always place the boats within a container before steaming.
  3. Banana leaves lose their color and texture when cooked. For a good presentation and fresh green color, it is better to transfer the cooked fish in a fresh boat just before serving.
  4. You can use fish and vegetables of your choice.
  5. Fish is very delicate so do not overcook it. It will destroy the flavor. If you are steaming larger portions at a time only then you need to extend the cooking time. If the top tray is steamed well then remove it and continue steaming the next tray.
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