This Vietnamese-style banana leaf fish recipe is inspired by the street food of Vietnam. One of the things that’s clear when travelling around Vietnam is just how much street food is part of the culture. Food is purchased, cooked and eaten on side-walks and down alleyways in cities all over the country.
When Lauren and I were visiting the Đồng Xuân market in Hanoi we came across a kitchen supply shop and had to get a few things – two of them being a little metal grill and a device to hold fish over the top. They’ve been sitting unused for a while and finally instead of firing up the Weber kettle we decided to try our Vietnamese purchases, which was appropriate given what we were cooking. This dish is really easy to make, with moist tender fish contrasting with a crisp, almost claypot-like rice.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes / Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes / Serves 4
- 200g short grain rice
- 200ml water, room temperature
- 2 banana leaves, about 30cm long
- 1 large barramundi fillet, about 500g
- 1 lemongrass stalk, finely sliced
- 2 birds eye chillies
- 2 tbsp (30ml) fish sauce
- 15g dill, finely chopped
- 20g basil, finely chopped
- 1 lime
- 1 shallot, finely sliced
- Heat up some charcoal/briquettes for your barbecue.
- Soak the rice in water for 10 minutes.
- Add the lemongrass, chillies, fish sauce, dill and basil to a pestle and mortar and grind.
- Drain the rice and add it to the pestle and mortar and grind it in with the other ingredients until combined.
- Transfer the mixture to a larger bowl and add the zest and juice of 1 lime and the sliced shallot.
- Place the mixture in the middle of one of the banana leaves, covering about the same width and length of the fish, then place the fish on top, skin side down.
- Tightly wrap the contents with the banana leaf, and then wrap again with the second banana leaf.
- Reinforce the wrapped parcel with some twine.
- Your charcoal/briquettes should now be hot. Place them in the centre of your barbecue and place the wrapped parcel onto the grill directly above the heat.
- Grill for 15-20 minutes and remove from the barbecue. Open the parcel and serve.
Cooking this on charcoal/briquettes really gives the food a great taste but if you aren’t able to do this, you can cook it in your oven using the grill setting and it will still taste really good – you won’t get the crispy finish on the rice though.