Friday, May 27, 2011

How to Cook Thai Fillet of Fish Baked in Banana Leaf

You'll love this tender and wonderful-tasting Thai baked fish. Slathered in a fragrant coconut sauce, the fillet is then wrapped in banana leaves (OR tin foil/parchment paper) and baked in the oven. Coconut rice makes an excellent optional accompaniment (see recipe link), or serve with plain rice or potatoes. Nearly any type of fish will work in this recipe, including salmon, red snapper, cod, tilapia, sole, etc...) An easy and healthy fish recipe that's also fun to make, and the taste is truly gourmet. Enjoy!

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: SERVES 2-3


  • 2-3 fillets salmon, red snapper, cod, or other fish, preferably fresh, but frozen will work too
  • 1 pkg. banana leaves (if frozen, thaw for at least 1/2 hour) OR 2-4 sheets parchment paper, OR tin foil
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal (or 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, OR 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili from the spice aisle
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • juice of 1/2 lime


For an easier version of this recipe (with pictures), see: How to Make Thai Fish in Banana Leaf Packets with Coconut-Basil Sauce.
  1. Place all curry marinade/sauce ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and process well.
  2. Place fish fillets in a large bowl and add 1/2 the curry 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. Tip: If you're pressed for time, you can cook the fish immediately, as the flavors are so strong, they will still permeate the fish sufficiently.
  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) - or the equivalent of parchment paper or tin foil. Place one fillet in the center of the leaf/paper/foil.
  5. Fold both sides of the wrapping material over the fish, then fold both ends to create a square "packet". Turn it seam-side down to keep sides from opening (unless using foil, which will stay by itself). 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 or steak (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 curry sauce/marinade.
  9. To serve the fish, scoop several spoonfuls of rice onto the side of the fish (right on the banana leaf, if using). Spoon some curry sauce (marinade) over the fish, then add a sprinkling of basil and/or coriander leaves.
Serving Tips: This dish goes especially well with Easy Thai Coconut Rice. Serve with a chilled white wine or blush, or a cold lager, and enjoy this "quintessentially Thai" eating experience!

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