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Banana Leaf Wrapped Coconut Fish and Sumans

Tropical Banana Leaf Wrapped Coconut fish and sumans

Shhhhh... Please do not let the customs officer in the airport know but we brought in something to the country that I have been wanting to cook with for a VERY VERY long time.

Tropical Banana Leaf Wrapped Coconut fish and sumans

That little culinary product that I have been longing to cook with is fresh tropical banana leaves. I have seen banana leaves growing naturally on some of the islands in Hong Kong like Lamma Island and Chueng Chau Island but there are also a lot of BIG spiders in Hong Kong, so I try to stay on the walking path at all costs. Actually, the boys and I have nicked named Lamma Island "Spider Island", keep on reading to find out the details...

Tropical Banana Leaf Wrapped Coconut fish and sumans

If you can get over the fact that Lamma has man-eating spiders, it really is a beautiful place.

Tropical Banana Leaf Wrapped Coconut fish and sumans

A banana leaf is the leaf from the banana plant. It is used for various functions, such as for decorative elements, wrappings, plate mat, and employed in cooking method.

Tropical Banana Leaf Wrapped Coconut fish and sumans

Banana leaves are used in many countries such as India, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, etc.  Banana leaves are large, flexible, and waterproof and provide a great way to steam, grill, fry, bake and display Asian cuisines.

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The Banana leaf is also used to add aroma to the food. Steamed with dishes they impart a subtle sweet flavor. They often serve as a wrapping for grilling food. The leaves contain the juices, protect food from burning and add a subtle flavor.

Tropical Banana Leaf Wrapped Coconut fish and sumans

I was so excited about finally receiving these banana leaves. I always knew I wanted to make a lovely fish dish and of course my mango stick rice inside the leaves as I have seen many times in my travels and now I had the opportunity to try it myself. I was so very happy with the end product as the light aroma and flavor of the banana leaves is very delicate and really kept the fish very flaky and moist. Of course the sticky rice and mango rocked and I should have made way more of that.

Tropical Banana Leaf Wrapped Coconut fish and sumans

I know that Bam's Kitchen is usually dedicated to my teenage boys and their culinary needs and requirements but sometimes mom's need a very special treat too. After all, Mother's Day is this weekend and a very special Happy Mum's Day to all of you!

Tropical Banana Leaf Coconut Fish

Serves 2 adult- (More for me as my teenage boys would not touch this dish with a ten foot pole)

Tropical Banan Leaf Fish

  • 2 fillets of white light fish - scales and bones removed (tilapia, orange roughy, cod, whatever your little heart desires, etc)
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 3 Keffir lime leaves (vein removed and broken to release flavors)
  • 2 lemon grass stocks (Banged and chopped  into 2 inch segments to release flavors and aroma)
  • 4-5 Thai Basil leaves whole
  • few dashes of fish sauce
  • ground white pepper to taste
  • few slices of Galangal or ginger
  • 2 garlic finely minced (of course is there any other spice!!!!)
  • 1-2 bird chillies (seeds removed and sliced thinly-optional for your desired heat level)
  • 1 teaspoon of green or yellow curry paste (optional)
  • 5 fresh baby corns cut on a diagonal (substitute: canned baby corns)
  • handful of chinese garlic chives cut in 2 inch segments (substitute: green onions or regular chives)
  • juice of one key lime or 1/2 regular lime
  • 2 large fresh banana leaves (substitution: could also bake fish in a parchment packet but you will not have the nice delicate banana aroma and flavor)- In some countries you can find fresh banana leaves in the freezer section of Asian food stores.

Step 1: Marinate the fish: In a medium flat container or plastic bag combine the following items; fish, coconut milk, keffir lime leaves, lemon grass, basil, fish sauce, white pepper, Galangal, garlic, chillies, curry paste. (I bought a fresh Thai Tom Yum soup packet in the market and it had many of these ingredients all together or you can purchase them separately) Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1/2- 1 hour.

Step 2: Preheat oven or Grill (This is completely up to you. I chose to bake at 180 degree's Celsius as I did not want to lose any of the lovely marinade in the coals. However, you can also grill and preheat those charcoal or gas grills)

Step 3: Wash and cut banana leaves to desired size.

Step 4: Place one banana leaf on the counter and place the marinated fish in the center of the leaf. Add a few garlic chives, baby corn and a squeeze of a fresh lime. (If you like some of those lovely miniature Thai eggplant that would be a lovely addition as well.)

Step 5: Wrap the fish in the fresh banana leaf: Start on one end and fold banana leaf over fish. Then fold in the ends on either side and then continue to wrap so the end product is flat. 4 folds only. You can do this however you wish, just one idea. However with this method there was no need to secure.

Tropical Banana Leaf wrapped coconut fish and sumans

Step 6: Pop the fish into a slightly greased baking dish and bake for about 10-12 minutes or just until fish is light and flakes easily with fork. Alternatively you can pop the banana wrapped fish directly onto the grill and grill until fish is light and flaky. (Cooking time depends on size of your fillets and type of fish)

Tropical Banana Leaf wrapped coconut fish and sumans

Step 7: Serve the fish to your guests inside the banana leaves with yummy fragrant Mango sticky rice (recipe to follow)

Tropical Banana Leaf Wrapped Mango Sticky Rice from the Philippines

Serves 2 adults or 1 hungry teenage boy (I should have made more as this is something that the kids enjoy)

Recipe adapted from Shirley Villan

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup glutenous Rice (It does not contain gluten and is safe for gluten-free diets even though the name might make you think otherwise)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons coconut cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large pieces of fresh ginger
  • 4 medium-sized banana leaves and 8 pieces of banana leaves strips to tie up the packets
  • 50 grams fresh sliced mangoes (Can substitute with Jack fruit or any fruit you like)
  • Toasted mung beans (Optional)
Method:
Step 1: Soak the sticky rice in water for 3-4 hours or better overnight.
Step 2: Drain the rice grains and put in the sticky rice basket for cooking with boiling water- you can choose this method. You could put the raw ingredients directly into the banana leaf and steam as well. However I instead opted for the slow cook stove top method of cooking in a pot as I love how the sticky rice gets caramelized in the pan.
Step 3: For the pot method of steaming add rice, coconut milk and ginger in pot and steam for about 30 minutes.
Step 4: Add coconut cream, sugar and salt and mix for about 10 minutes until it gets this lovely yummy sticky part on the bottom of the pan.
Step 5: Place on banana leaf on the counter and place about 2- 3 large tablespoons of cooked sticky rice
Tropical Banana Leaf wrapped coconut fish and sumans
Step 6: Roll the banana leaf side to side to make the rice in a long even roll.
Tropical Banana Leaf wrapped coconut fish and sumans
Step 7: Roll the rice in the banana leaf and fold edges inwards.
Tropical Banana Leaf wrapped coconut fish and sumans
Step 8: Tie ends with small thin portion of banana leaf to secure.
Tropical Banana Leaf wrapped coconut fish and sumans
Step 9: Serve Tropical Sticky rice and Mango from the Philippines in the decorative banana leaf with mangos and toasted mung beans. (If you wish, you can also place on the grill for 2-3 minutes just before serving.)
Tropical Banana Leaf wrapped coconut fish and sumans

LESS THAN 30 MINUTE DINNERS

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ABOUT HEALTHY WORLD CUISINE

Healthy World Cuisine (HWC) Magazine is committed to provide a lifestyle traveling culinary experience featuring fresh ingredients, easy recipe preparation and culinary enjoyment. READ MORE...

Banana Leaf Wrapped Coconut Fish and Sumans

By HWC Magazine  , , , , ,   

May 10, 2012

  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Yields: 2 Adults or 1 Hungry Teenager

Ingredients

glutinous rice -

coconut milk -

sugar or sugar alternative -

ginger -

banana leaves -

mangoes -

toasted mung beans -

white fish -

keffir lime leaves -

thai basil -

lemongrass -

gargangal -

garlic -

chilis -

baby corns -

garlic chives -

key limes -

00:00
  • Happy Mother’s Day to you Bam! I serious need you to send one of those sticky rice mango desserts over right away! My mouth is watering and there’s nothing good in the house to eat at this moment (since it’s past 11pm), Ahhhh!

    • Happy Mum’s Day to you too!!! Suman’s -Sticky rice with mango is the perfect Midnight snack…. Take Care, BAM

  • They are beautiful!!!
    Happy Mother’s Day!!

    • Happy mothers Day to you Dawn! I hope your day is filled with lots of fun and laughter or at least one day free of cooking. Take care, BAM

  • Zoe @ Pantry and Fridge

    What an amazing read. Fun, exciting and delicious. I thought you probably had a dangerous side 🙂 International Banana Leaf smuggler.

    I’m still around, just not as apparent. Things have taken me away from my days of planning, dreaming and making yummies but I do enjoy reading.

    Glad your still cooking!! Loved this one.
    Zo

    • Hello Zoe, I missed you dearly! I’m still glad your reading. Take Care, BAM

  • There is not enough money in the world to that you could pay me to get me to go to Spider … er … Lamma Island. I wouldn’t sleep a wink until I was back on the plane, on my way out.

    This method of food prep ha always fascinated me, using banana leaves. I doubt it I’ll ever be able to find them here but it sure is interesting to see them in use. Thanks, BAM!

    • Dear John,
      Can you believe my boys want to hiking at “Spider Island” this weekend? Ugghh!!! I think I need to be anywhere, doing anything else but that. Maybe this weekend I am working on a shrimp boat in China? LOL
      I know you will most likely not be able to get the banana leaves were you live unless you have a very well stocked Asian food store. However, the fish is still great in a parchment packet so you can give it a try.
      Take care,
      BAM

  • Hi Bam, I especially love the photo with the fish and the mango on the leave – such a beautiful shot… it really makes me think “yup, this is going to be a great meal”. Looks wonderful! My sister has been to Lamma island a few times – I think she even got caught on the island in a tropical storm one time!

    • Hello and thanks Charles. Did your sister mention anything about the man eating spiders on Lamma Island? I hope she did not notice any and rode out the storm in the comfort of one of the fresh seafood restaurants by the pier. Being stranded on one of the small islands during a black thunderstorm or typhoon is not very fun.

      • Hi Bam, I don’t think she did mention the spiders – although it was a few years ago now so maybe 😀

        She managed to find a good place to ride out the storm. I remember my mother was very worried because my sister was calling from a phone box before the storm, letting us know that a big storm was going to hit the island and then after that she couldn’t get in touch any more until she got back to mainland China because it had knocked out all the phones!

  • I also want to try this! We always sneak things in – this time it was a bit of extra whisky from Scotland 🙂

    • I apologize I am so far behind on catching up on everyones posts. I can’t wait to read about Scotland.

  • I join John on being an arachnophobic!
    Beautifully done with the banana leaves.
    🙂 Mandy

    • Count me in as well. Spiders this big freak me out… Take care, BAM

  • Happy mothers day my friend! Or upcoming at least 😀
    This is such a stunning way of cooking – I bet it releases so much more flavour!
    I promise not to report you to customs because it looks so oriental and wonderful and… If you share with me 😉

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    • Thanks CCU. Are you going to make anything special for your mom this Sunday?

  • That’s so cool…We always manage to get a few goodies back from France that we’re not really supposed to have, too. I always breathe a little sigh of relief when the Customs Beagle passes by my suitcase! 😉
    Happy Mothers Day, Bobbi…make sure those boys treat you well this weekend!

    • Happy Mums Day Marie, I hope your family spoils you rotten… I’m stopping off in Paris next week. What do you suggest I can’t live without trying in Bams Kitchen?

      • I know what I always bring home – a jar of dried morels! They taste better than any I can get here, and cost about half as much!
        Where will you be staying? Email me, if you want…I’ve got a couple of ‘regular stops’ I could share…

  • I’ve eaten a few banana leaf dishes on my travels and they are wonderful – so delicate and flavoursome. I’m also a sucker for the gorgeous flowers! Your fish dish, with all those beautiful flavours and ingredients sounds perfect to me. I’m now wondering if I could buy some leaves in my favourite oriental shop in Soho.- I bet they import them ? !

    • I am sure there is probably some kind of online ordering service for these supplies. In addition, if you have a nice Asian market kook in the freezer as this is usually where they are kept.

  • I adore things cooked in banana leaves! I love that you posted a recipe because I have never ever done this!

    • If anyone knows how to obtain banana leaves in their home country then please pass the message on. If not you can make the fish in parchment paper and sticky rice can be made without the banana leaf. Take care, BAM

  • Happy early Mother’s Day!

  • Um, yeah, not going near that Spider Island for the banana leaves, even though I’ve always wanted to cook with them. We sometimes see them here in the international farmer’s markets, but they aren’t fresh of course. I’ve had fish cooked in the leaves, but never such a great preparation as yours. Lovely photos and this recipe is calling to my taste buds with those Thai flavors. Happy Mother’s Day to you BAM! Enjoy.

    • Happy Mothers Day! That is awesome that you have them in the international farmers market. Are they stored in the freezer section?
      You are so very sweet but really I have just had this big craving for Thai flavors and lucky for me I can get all the ingredients I need to support my addiction to those yummy flavors. Take care, BAM

  • You so tempt me into trying these…they just look so neat! (And I don’t blame you about the spiders, yikes!) Happy early mother’s day to you!! Hope your boys spoil you rotten.

    • Happy Mum’s Day to you Courtney. I hope your day is grand and free from slaving in the kitchen. enjoy your special day. BAM

  • You know what? I was just having a craving for coconut fish but wasn’t sure hot to make it more interesting – well, your suggestion is grand! And I even know where to get banana leaves here in Sydney! Dish for the weeekend!

    • You are the 2nd person from Australia that can get their hands on banana leaves. Awesome! It really is such a simple dish but full of drama for flavors and presentation. Take Care, BAM

  • These look really cute (not the spider though!) and fun to make! Not sure where I would find some banana leaves in Melb but I guess a bit of snooping would find some :). Happy Mother’s Day!

    • Are you living in Melbourne, Sidney? Check in with Martyna @ Wholesome cook, living in Sydney and Cooks Books and Patty Cakes living in QLD Australia who responded and maybe they can give you directions on locations to obtain banana leaves (maybe there is a certain vendor who delivers) Happy Mum’s Day to you!

  • Oh Bam these look delicious! I am so lucky to live in QLD (Australia) where mangoes are plentiful and banana trees grow in many suburban backyards…do you know if it is a specific species of banana plant? I’ve been wanting to plant some suckers in my own yard but I know there are several varieties. Maybe I’ll have to wait a few years for them to mature!
    We also have nasty spiders here but none are man-eaters that I know of – eeek!

    Happy Mother’s Day, I hope you have a lovely day!

    • That is a very good question but I really have no idea which type is best to plant. I am happy to hear that in the land of Oz you can get access to these kinds of food products. It opens up a whole new culinary world.

  • looks great, bam! this is my husbands’ favorite. thanks for posting. i must try this recipe soon. maybe for fathers’ day? 🙂

    • You certainly do not want to cook on your special day this weekend. Happy Mum’s Day to you!

  • too pretty to eat – looks more like a gift then a meal and I would guess it’s delcious

    • You are so very sweet but really have to try. It has such a wonderful delicate banana flavor. That customs officer is going to have to just keep looking the other way…

  • How interesting! I can see why you were so happy to get some banana leaves! Have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

    • Happy Mum’s Day to you too Jill. Once again I am trying to leave a comment on your site and having difficulties. I wanted to let you know that your thumbprint cookies are so beautiful with the little icing drizzle. Google think just because I live in China I can read traditional Chinese characters. So the saga goes on….

  • I would LOVE this if someone would make this fabulous looking banana leaf wrapped dish for me for Mother’s Day. I’m afraid the house might burn down though. I love how gorgeous this meal is. I can only imagine the sweetness that leaf imparts. You are such an amazing cook Bam. Happy Mother’s Day to you and may your day be filled with happiness and much love. And here’s a toast to no more Shakespeare for the moment! 😉

    • Dear Geni, I will toast to that!
      You are so very sweet and I think both of our kids are very lucky to have moms that like to cook. Take Care and hang in there the school year is almost over with. BAM

  • I LOVE this dish, it looks so .. TIDY! .. I can;t get the leaves and i am useless at smuggling so i shall just have to look at yours, actually i love the shot of them wrapped so i am going to pop it on my Food For the Eyes pinterest board! c

    • Thank you Cecilia. It was my first time wrapping them up so I don’t how good the effect was but I found it amazing simple to do so I am certain that is why this tradition was started. Take Care, BAM

  • machisan

    Another tempting combo

  • I’ve never been able to find banana leaves locally, either- Glad to hear I’m not the only one. It looks like such a fun, exotic sort of dish though, like an escape to a tropical paradise for just one meal. I guess I’ll have to just keep on hunting!

    • I did feel very special eating this dish like I was on a summer paradise in the tropics. Drink in hand with lots of fruit hanging off of it. Yummy exotic flavors. It was the best! Happy banana leaf hunting.

  • Lucky for you, your teens wouldn’t touch it! Yum.

  • Hi Bam,
    Happy Mother’s Day! That fish wrapped in the leaf looks incredible! I can almost smell the wonderful aroma of the dish.
    In India, we make fish wrapped in banana leaf too. We apply a cilantro-chilly paste to it and then steam it. It’s light and absolutely delicious!

  • You can never ever underestimate the flavour a simple Banana Leaf wrap can give you. Love this!!!

  • I always enlarge your photos, BAM, to get the full impact and see all the details. The banana leaves are gorgeous and seem to be so versatile. I laughed to read that there is at least one dish in your household that the boys won’t gobble up. Hope you had a good mother’s day. Of course you did–you cooked for you!

  • I hope you had a swell Mother’s Day! Man eating spiders? No thanks. I’ve never cooked with banana leaves, but have always wanted to. Your recipe looks great. And nice details in the recipe, too. Really good post – thanks so much.

  • I hope you had an excellent Mother’s Day.. it sure looks like you did! These are so pretty.. you know I love anything with a special little presentation like this!! 😀

  • I hope you had a wonderful mother’s day Bam
    I am afraid I am with John on this one. There is not enough money in the world to get me to go to spider island!
    Your meal on the other hand looks so exotic and mouth watering,

  • oh my Bam!! I love your exotic take on the Philippines!! a lot of my favourite food stems from there!! And I’m a huge fan of banana leaves!! They give a fragrance that’s indescribable! Do try pandan leaves in the future too!! 😀

  • Beautiful wrapping job… I haven’t seen it done that nicely in restaurants!

  • These have brought back memories of my trip to Kerala. I love banana leaf wrapped fish and yours looks wonderful!

    • Thank you . I really love the delicate banana flavour it gives to the dish. With the banana leaves it makes clean up a snap. I’m just returning into town and I can’t wait to read about all the yummy things you have been making in your kitchen. Take care

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