This is my favourite fish dish from South India. The fish is steamed in banana leaves which are as rare as Dragon’s teeth in Devon. Luckily, banana leaves freeze well so I pounce on them when I see them turn up (occasionally) in the Asian store in Exeter. This week, when I went to the Oriental wholesaler they had run out but for a mere half a leaf accidentally left in their freezer. I usually wrap the fish in banana leaf parcels for each diner but the lack of leaf meant that I had to roll what little I had around all the fish and bake it rather than make parcels for every person. In conclusion, I feel steaming or barbecuing imparts a better flavour and stronger perfume than baking, but this recipe can stand up without without using the leaves at all.
Serve it with lots of white rice or as part of a curry feast.
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 teasp turmeric
1 lemon, juice of (can use lime)
100g desiccated coconut + a drop of oil and a splash of hot water (or use fresh grated coconut.
2-5 green chillies, sliced finely
2 tsp mango chutney
1 handful fresh mint leaves, then chop them finely
1 handful fresh coriander leaves, then chop them finely
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
5g fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 clove garlic
1 tsp tamarind (optional)
Banana leaves, blanched in boiling water
2. Meanwhile, rehydrate the desiccated coconut by adding a splash of boiling water (better less than more, don’t drown it) from the kettle and a few drops of vegetable oil. Mix it around with a spoon. Alternatively, grate fresh coconut.
3. Place the coconut in a bowl and add the green chillies, mango chutney, mint and coriander leaves, ginger, garlic and tamarind. Mix together.
4. Blanche the banana leaves with boiling water from the kettle. This cleans the leaves and also softens the fibres which helps stop splitting when you wrap the fish.
5. Place the marinated fish on banana leaves and cover the fish with the mixture.
6. Wrap in banana leaves and steam or bake or grill on a BBQ for about 10-15 minutes.
7. Unwrap and serve on the banana leaves with steaming white rice.