These steamed parcels are aromatic and their flavour is truly unique. The fish cooks in the paste that transforms into a mouth-watering rich sauce.

Ingredients

  • 4 snapper fish fillets
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 6 Kaffir lime leaves, torn
  • 1/2 cup Thai basil, torn
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 bananas leaves, cut in half

Seasoning

  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • The juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

Spice Paste

  • 2 medium size shallots, cut into very small cubes
  • 2 to 4 bird’s eye chillies
  • 2 centimetre piece of ginger, cut into small slices
  • 2 candlenuts
  • 2 centimeter piece of fresh turmeric, cut into small slices
  • 2 stalks of lemon grass, bruised and finely sliced

Method

  • Rub the fish fillets with with the seasoning ingredients.
  • Prepare the paste. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or a stone mortar and grind into a fine paste.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the paste and cook over low heat until fragrant, adding the stock and coconut milk to prevent sticking.
  • Add the remaining ingredients (the kaffir lime leaves, Thai basil) except the salt and banana leaves. Saute for 1 minute or until well mixed.
  • Remove from the heat and leave the paste to cool at room temperature, then season with salt to taste.
  • Place two tablespoons of spice mixture on top of each fillet.
  • Place the fish on the centre of each banana leaf.
  • Wrap the fish tightly in the banana leaf and secure with tooth picks or kitchen string.
  • Steam the parcels for 20 to 25 minutes or until cooked through, then serve as desired.
  • I like to serve this fish with Jasmine rice.

Tips

Through many tropical regions around the world banana leaves are often used to wrap and cook fish. However they need to be heated and treated. They must be flamed over on an open fire ahead of using them in order to make them smooth and bendable and easy to work with. During this process the banana leaves release some of their natural oil, which also makes them fragrant and nicely shiny and glossy.

  • Candlenuts are used frequently in Malay and Indonesian cooking. They are soft and oily that enrich and gives a unique taste to a sauce.
  • If you can not find banana leaves, steam the fish fillets in parchment paper packets (En Papillote). Place them on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes.

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