Banana Leaf Wrapped Fish

4 Oct

Banana Leaf Wrapped Fish

Pretty Little Dishes is definitely a labor of love – so I’m absolutely humbled and flattered by each visitor that stops by {seriously, that means you!  Thank you!}.  This week, I must call out a special thanks to Ariel over at for featuring my baked sweet potato tater tots in her “delicious links” feature!    Besos, bella!

Now, one of my biggest every day supporters is a friend of mine, MaeLee, who I was lucky enough to meet in college when she started dating (and later married), my oldest friend on the books.  And can I just say I’m super excited they are coming to visit in a couple of weeks!  Yay!

MaeLee has been popping by the site, testing out the recipes {aka:  keeping me honest} and cooking with me from 2,500 miles away.  So, I thought it was proper to officially invite her in to {my madness} / Pretty Little Dishes to host a recipe week!  And as MaeLee is a true Floridian – it’s tropical & involves fish!

Night before fish and fruit salsa prep

{MaeLee’s Take}

My requirement:  a light, healthy dish and the ability to incorporate some of the abundant banana leaves from trees in my yard.  My husband’s request:  mango salsa.  So after some research, and inspired by eHow and, I finally came up with this combination and it has been one of my favorite recipes ever since.

wrapping the fish

My go-to fish for this dish is Tilapia, but any variety of white fish will work.  I find it easiest to assemble all of the ingredients ahead of time and let the fish marinate all day in the fridge before I bake it.

I also like to prepare the salsa in the morning as it really enhances the flavor of the mango. To finish it off, I serve the fish over steamed rice.

cooked fish

curry{Gina’s Take}

There were a couple of things that I tweaked along the way from MaeLee’s original recipe.  The original included fish sauce, a fresh red chili, and mango.  I had to deviate because I didn’t have fish sauce on hand, I went to 3 stores and couldn’t find a red chili {so weird}, and I’m {sadly as it’s one of my favorite fruits} allergic to mango.  So, to recap, that’s 3 Tbsp of soy instead of 3 Tbsp of fish sauce, 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper instead of 1 diced red chili, and an even swap of mango to pineapple.  I also added ginger and brown sugar to the marinade, so, the recipe presented below includes the modifications I made.

fish in parchment paperI made this recipe a few times, varying the fish and the wrappers.  I used both Tilapia and  Pacific Rockfish.  I liked the Tilapia version better, but my husband said he couldn’t tell the difference.  Because I live in LA and have no grass, much less trees, I ordered the banana leaves ahead of time from Whole Foods.  They were a whopping $0.24 {hello, big spender!}.  If you plan on doing that, Whole Foods just needs a day or two notice and the nice folks who work in the produce section will have them ready for you.

Also, as mentioned in the Pretty Little Tip below, I tried the parchment paper banana leaf wrapped fishapproach too.  Now while it wasn’t nearly as fun, it did the job equally as well.

I served the fish over Bhutanese Red Rice {don’t ask…I am compelled to buy a cup or two of each rice variety I see at Whole Foods}.  I actually love  this rice variety for a couple of reasons – it’s a healthier option, it has a great nutty flavor, and of course – it’s pretty & pink!

The best part of this recipe is the simplicity and amazing flavor combinations…oh…and very little clean up!

{Pretty Little Tip}

No banana leaves, no problem.  Use parchment paper instead!

Banana Leaf Wrapped Fish


    Marinade - prep the night before or at least 6 hours ahead
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • Cilantro Fruit Salsa - prep the night before or at least 6 hours ahead
  • 1 can diced pineapple (20oz)
  • 1 stalk chopped scallion, green part only
  • 1 diced red bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed & diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • half of a lime, juiced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Day of/Final prep
  • 2 Tilapia or white fish fillets
  • 2 Banana leaves or parchment paper
  • Rice, prepared per it's instructions, and set aside.


  1. Place shallot, garlic, soy sauce, coconut milk, crushed red pepper, chili powder, lime juice, ginger, and brown sugar in a food processor. Blend until processed into a curry marinade.
  2. Place fish in a large ziploc bag and add ~2/3 of the marinade to the bag, reserving a third for later.
  3. Marinate fish overnight in the refrigerator.
  4. Cilantro Fruit Salsa...
  5. Lightly toss all ingredients in a bowl.
  6. Cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight
  7. Day of / Final Prep...
  8. Place a banana leaf seam side up on a cutting board
  9. Take a marinated fish filet and place in the center of the leaf
  10. Wrap the fish with the leaf and secure it with toothpicks
  11. Turn wrapped fish over (seam side down) and place in a glass baking dish
  12. Bake at 350F in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until fish is done
  13. While fish is baking...
  14. Add reserve curry marinade to a sauce pan and heat over medium high heat for about 5 minutes - just until it starts to simmer.
  15. Once the fish is cooked...
  16. Unwrap fish and serve on a plate with rice.
  17. Drizzle marinade over fish.
  18. Top with Fruit Salsa.

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