Mackerel grilled in banana leaf

Mackerel grilled in banana leaf

Cá nưong là chuối

Real Vietnamese Cooking
Michael Fountoulakis

Every restaurant in Hoi An has its own version of fish steamed in banana leaf. Grilling fish in banana leaves keeps it moist, while allowing the smoky flavours from the grill to penetrate the sweet flesh.


Quantity Ingredient
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 lemongrass stems, roughly chopped, white part only
2cm fresh ginger, roughly chopped
80ml peanut oil
8 spring onions, sliced
1 large banana leaves
or 2 small banana leaves
1 x 1-1.4kg mackerel, gutted and cleaned
4 tablespoons Fried shallots
Lime and chilli dipping salt, to serve


  1. Heat a chargrill or barbecue to high.
  2. Place the garlic, lemongrass and ginger in a mortar or food processor and pound or process to form a paste.
  3. Put the peanut oil and spring onion in a small saucepan and heat gently over low heat. As soon as the spring onion wilts, remove from the heat.
  4. Cut the banana leaf into seven 30 cm x 20 cm rectangles. Soften the pieces by dropping them into a saucepan of boiling water for 20 seconds. Remove and pat dry with paper towel. They can now be folded easily without tearing.
  5. Place one banana leaf portion, shiny side down, on a work surface. Place a second banana leaf on the top half. Continue with the remaining leaves, working your way around the bottom leaf.
  6. Place the fish on top of the banana leaves. Make a pocket in the fish, by making an incision just below the head, lengthways along the side of the fish. Now carefully cut the fish away from the ribcage. Fold the flesh back to expose the bones. Into this cavity, place the garlic paste, fried shallots, and the spring onions with their oil.
  7. To wrap the fish, fold the banana leaves at the head and tail of the fish, then roll up and secure with skewers.
  8. Place directly onto the hot grill or use a grilling basket, if desired, for easier handling. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through, turning the fish once.
  9. Remove the fish from the heat. Unwrap the banana leaves, taking care to avoid steam burns.
  10. Serve the fish on the banana leaf, with the dipping salt.
Real Vietnamese Cooking
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