Banana leaves are used in this recipe to protect the fish from direct heat as well as to add a subtle extra flavour. The leaves will char as they cook. You will find banana leaves in Asian supermarkets, often in the freezer cabinets.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 4 red tilapa, grey/red mullet, or mackerel (about 300 g/11 oz each)
- 10 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 6 coriander (cilantro) roots, chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 8 pieces of banana leaf
- a chilli sauce, to serve
How to Make It
- Clean and gut the fish, leaving the heads on. Dry the fish thoroughly. Score each fish three or four times on both sides with a sharp knife.
- Using a pestle and mortar or small blender, pound or blend the garlic, coriander roots, pepper, salt and oil into a paste. Rub the garlic paste inside the cavities and all over each fish. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- To soften the banana leaves and prevent them from splitting, put them in a hot oven for about 10–20 seconds, or blanch them briefly. Using two pieces of banana leaf, each with the grain running at right angles to the other, wrap each fish like a parcel. Pin the ends of the banana leaves together with toothpicks.
- Heat a grill (broiler) or barbecue to medium. Barbecue or grill (broil) the fish for 15 minutes on each side, or until the fish is light brown and cooked. To make the fish easier to lift and turn during cooking, you can place the fish in a fish-shaped griddle that opens out like tongs. Transfer the fish to a serving plate. Serve with a chilli sauce.