Vietnamese Recipes & Cuisines (Seafood)

Jungle Fish Cooked with Fresh Turmeric in Banana Leaves Recipe

Steaming fish in banana leaves over hot charcoal is a very traditional jungle method for cooking freshwater fish. Banana leaves are large and tough, and serve as basic cooking vessels and wrappers for all sorts of fish and meat. Here the fish is cooked in six layers of leaves, allowing for the outer ones to burn. For this simple yet extremely tasty dish you could use trout, any of the catfish or carp family, or even talapia, which has been introduced to the waters of Laos and Vietnam.

Ingredients : Serves 4

350 g


2 tablespoons


For the marinade


5 cm


2 cloves


15 ml

2.5 ml

1/4 teaspoon

1/4 teaspoon

Freshwater fish fillets, such as trout, cut into bite-size chunks

Banana leaves

Vegetable oil, for brushing




Turmeric root, peeled and grated

Spring onions (scallions), finely sliced

Garlic, crushed

Green Thai chilies, seeded and finely chopped

Nuoc cham

Raw cane sugar


Ground black pepper

Method :
  • To make the marinade, grate the shallots into a bowl. Combine with other marinade ingredients, seasoning with salt and pepper.

  • Toss the chunks of fish in the marinade, making sure they are well coated, then cover and chill for 6 hours, or overnight.

  • Prepare a barbecue. Place one of the banana leaves on a flat surface and brush it with oil.

  • Tip the marinated fish on to the banana leaf, spreading it out evenly, then fold over the sides to form an envelope.

  • Place this envelope, fold side down, on top of another leaf and fold that one in the same manner. Repeat with the remaining leaves until they are all used up.

  • Secure the last layer of banana leaves with a piece of bendy wire.

  • Place the banana leaf packet on the barbecue.

  • Cook for about 20 minutes, turning it over from time to time to make sure it is cooked on both sides - the outer leaves will burn.

  • Carefully untie the wire (it will be hot) and unravel the banana leaf packet, then serve the fish with sticky rice, noodles or salad.

Tips :

Banana leaves are available in some African and Asian stores and markets. If you can't find them, wrap the fish in vine leaves that have been steeped in cold water, or large flexible cabbage leaves. You can also use foil.

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