The other day I was walking through Whole Foods and in the produce section I stumbled upon some banana leaves. I don’t usually see those here in Asheville so obviously I grabbed some. Then I obviously went back and grabbed the rest of them. I mean, I can always come up with ways to cook with them and they do freeze well.
Wrapping proteins and even veggies in banana leaves is pretty easy, but a classic way to use banana leaves is to wrap some sort of fish in them. If you think about it, where are banana trees located? They are usually around some form of water like the ocean so it makes sense. You can do anything with the fish that you would do with parchment or aluminum foil.
Mexican: Wrap the fish with jalapenos, tomatoes, onions, garlic, lime and some cilantro.
Caribbean: Wrap the fish with pineapple, serrano chilis, red onion, lemon and cilantro.
Asian: Wrap the fish with sliced red bell peppers, red onions, ginger, garlic, a splash of soy sauce and some cilantro.
Thai: Wrap the fish with a coconut curry sauce. I used this recipe.
The only real difference with wrapping fish with banana leaves versus parchment paper is how you wrap the fish. You need to soak the banana leaves in warm water for 30 minutes, not cold. Why warm you may ask? The warm water helps the leaves become more pliable. Once it becomes pliable, you wrap the fish like a burrito. Then you tie the little bundle with some butcher twine and off it goes into the oven or grill.
Then it’s off to the grill or the oven for 20-30 minutes. The tim is really entirely up to the size of the fish or fish pieces you are using. I used to 3/4 pound catfish filets for my thai fish in banana leaves and they were on the grill for 25 minutes.
Once removed, let them sit for about 5 minutes and then you can open up your little packet and serve!
Fish Wrapped in Banana Leaves
- 2 white fish filets like catfish or tilapia that are about 3/4 pound each
- 2 banana leaves, 12 inches by 20 inches, roughly
- Lemon slices
- Fresh Herbs
- Kosher salt
- Soak the banana leaves in warm water for 30 minutes.
- Heat the grill to medium-heat or an oven to 400F.
- Season the fish with salt and pepper. Then place the fish on the banana leaves. Place herbs and lemon slices on the fish. Wrap the fish like a burrito and tie.
- Place in the oven or on the grill for 25 minutes.