Thai Fish and Spices in Banana Leaf

Serves 2 | 15 mins cooking | 25 mins preparation

This is a great street food dish found on every street corner in Northern and Assan regions of Thailand and as soon as you open up the parcel you will be assaulted by steam filled with spices and fresh herbs.


  • 250-300g filleted fish – Tilapia
  • Banana leaves – can just use tin foil
  • Toothpicks if using banana leaves
  • Holy basil or Thai basil
  • Kaffir lime leaves

Chili paste

  • 2 lemongrass stalks
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • 2 shallots
  • 15-20 dry Thai chillies
  • 3-5 birdseye chillies
  • Peel from 1 lime
  • 1/2 finger of turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp Salt


  1. Chop up all the chilli paste ingredients.
  2. In a mortar and pestle add the salt and the dry chillies and pound until you have chilli flakes. Add the fresh chillies and pound some more, finally adding the remaining chilli paste ingredients and pound for 15 minutes until you get a course chilli paste.
  3. Cut the fish into 5cm pieces and place in a bowl. Add the chilli paste and combine well, making sure all the fish is covered.
  4. Prepare two banana leaves (or foil) approx 40cm square in size.
  5. Place and handful of the basil leaves in the centre of each banana leaf and top with half the fish and some kaffir lime leaves on top.
  6. Wrap up the fish and seal the banana leaf packages with toothpicks.
  7. These are ideal for grilling on a BBQ for about 15 minutes, otherwise place under a medium/hot grill for 15 minute. If using a banana leaf it will blacken and impart a nice smokey flavour to the fish.
  8. Serve the packets when hot


Your not likely to get banana leaves in your local supermarket here in the UK but they are readily available if you have an Asian supermarket nearby.

Traditionally these would be served with sticky rice, but if you don’t have regular Jasmin rice is just fine.

If you don’t have Tilapia any firm fish can be used like Basa or Monkfish. Their are versions of this using chicken or pork if you prefer and one day I might make and post up those versions of this recipe

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