“Fish in the hands of a skilled cook can become an inexhaustible source of gustatory pleasures.”
I'm always looking for food recipes where I can get Mr. S.'s kidlets interested in food, so imagine my delight when both kidlets expressed an interest in what I was cooking last Wednesday. What drew their interest to my fumbling in the kitchen? Banana leaves. They were enamored with the idea of cooking with them. Although banana leaves can be found at pretty much any Asian market in South Sac, for two kidlets growing up in the suburbs and eating mainly mainstream American food; the idea of cooking with banana leaves seems exotic. So once I had the sauce whipped up, I enlisted their help in wrapping up the fish in the leaves. Now if you've never cooked with banana leaves before, they're great for steaming or grilling fish. The leaves keep the fish moist and tender. Now while cooking, the leaves impart a green tea-like fragrance...it wafted about making the kitchen smell wonderful!
Thai Fish Baked in Banana Leaves ( from About.com )
Yield: Serves 2-3
• 2-3 fillets fish (I used fresh pink snapper from Oto's)
• 1 pkg. banana leaves (if frozen, thaw for at least 1/2 hour)
• 1 shallot
• 2 cloves garlic
• 1 thumb-size piece ginger, sliced
• 2 tsp. ground coriander
• handful of basil leaves
• 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
• 1/2 can good-quality coconut milk
• 2 kaffir lime leaves, snipped into slivers with scissors, or 1 tsp. lime zest
• 1 fresh red chili, sliced & seeds removed
• 1 tsp. chili powder
• juice of 1/2 lime
1. Place all marinade/sauce ingredients in a food processor and process well.
2. Place fish fillets in a large bowl and add 1/2 the marinade. Reserve the rest for later.
3. Slather the marinade over both sides of the fish, then let it sit in the refrigerator 10 to 15 minutes.
4. When fish is done marinading, spread a banana leaf approximately 1 foot square on a working surface (you will have to cut the leaf). Place one fillet in the center of the leaf.
5. Fold both sides of the leaf over the fish, then fold both ends to create a square "packet". Turn it seam-side down to keep sides from opening (or secure with a skewer, like I did). Do the same for the other fillets.
6. Place packets in a glass casserole dish or pie plate (to catch the drippings in case packets leak) and bake for 15 min. at 350 degrees, or longer depending on the thickness of the fillets.
7. After 15 minutes, open one of the packets. Insert a fork into the center of the fillet (the thickest part) and gently pull back. If inside flesh is opaque and no longer transparent, the fish is cooked. If not, return to oven for another 5-10 minutes.
8. Over low heat, warm up the reserved sauce/marinade.
9. To serve the fish, scoop several spoonfuls of rice onto the side of the fish. Spoon some of the sauce over the fish, then add a sprinkling of basil and/or garnish with diced red/yellow/green bell peppers.