This fish is stuffed with herbs that give it a delicious taste and great aromas.  The saltiness comes from the fish sauce and the sourness comes from the lime juice.

This is a simple recipe that goes well with a dipping sauce and a nice bowl of Jasmine rice.


  • 4 small whole red snappers or red emperors, cleaned and scaled
  • 2 large banana leaves
  • 4 fresh small red Thai chillies, sliced thinly
  • 4 fresh Kaffir lime leaves, shredded finely
  • 4 spring onions, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 4 sticks fresh lemon grass

Ingredients for the Lime Sweet Chilli Dressing

  • 1 cup sweet chilli sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Method for the Lime and Sweet Chilli Dressing

  • Place all the ingredients in a screw-top-jar and shake well.  Set aside until needed.


Method for the Fish

  • Score the fish on both sides through the thickest part of flesh.


  • Place the fish on a large tray.
  • Drizzle with half of the dressing on both sides of the fish and rub the sauce in well with your hands.


  • Cover and refrigerate the fish over night, or at least for 1 hour.

Method for the Banana Leaf

  • Meanwhile, trim the banana leaves into four 30cm squares ( depending on the size of the fish).  Using a tong, dip one square at a time into a large sauce pan of boiling water, remove immediately.


  • Rinse under cold water, pat dry with absorbent paper.
  • Put the banana leaves on a work surface.
  • Combine the chilli, Kaffir lime leaves, onion, coriander and basil in a medium bowl.


  • Half the lemongrass sticks lengthways, then halve crossways; you will need sixteen pieces.


  • Place four pieces of cut lemon grass on each leaf square and place one fish on each.


  • Top the fish with equal amounts of the herb mixture.


  • Fold opposite corners of the leaf to enclose the centre part of the fish.
  • Secure each parcel with a cotton string.


  • Place the parcel in a single layer on a roasting pan lined with oven paper.


  • Bake the fish for 20 to 30 minutes at 160C, depending on the size of the fish, or until the fish is cooked through.
  • Serve the fish still in the parcels, drizzled with the remaining dressing.




  • Marinating the fish well is very important.
  • The marinating sauce can also be used as the dipping sauce.
  • Do not over cook the fish.  It has to be tender and moist.
  • I have also cooked this fish on the BBQ and it is also delicious.


3 thoughts on “Oven Baked Fish in Banana Leaves

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