Grilled Spicy Fish Pate in Banana Leaf

  • Active Time 25m
  • Total Time 45m

Makes 24 parcels

These spicy fish pate parcels are a typical portable lunch in Asia. Wrapped in banana leaves, the pate is infused with a distinctive floral aroma and taste. Frozen banana leaves may be found in Asian and Latin American markets; aluminum foil may be substituted.


  • For the Spice Paste:
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, tender heart section only, chopped
  • 6 candlenuts, soaked in water for 10 minutes, or blanched almonds
  • 1 piece fresh ginger, 1/2 inch long, peeled
  • 2 shallots, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 8 fresh small red chili peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • About 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup coconut cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • Dash of ground white pepper
  • For the Pate:
  • 1 1/2 lb whitefish fillets, preferably Spanish or king mackerel, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, cut into hairlike slivers, or shredded zest of 1 lime

  • 24 pieces banana leaf, each 6 inches square
  • 1 bunch basil, stemmed and leaves separated
  • Fresh red chili pepper slivers



Combine the lemongrass, candlenuts or almonds, ginger, shallots, garlic and chilies in a blender. Add the water as needed to facilitate the blending and blend to a smooth paste. Add the coriander and turmeric and blend to combine.

In a wok over medium heat, warm the vegetable oil. Add the spice paste and fry, stirring frequently, until fragrant and the oil takes on a red hue, about 3 minutes. Stir in the coconut cream, salt, sugar and white pepper and simmer until the mixture forms a fragrant thick cream, 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.


Place the fish in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process to a smooth paste. Add the spice paste and half of the kaffir lime leaf slivers or regular lime zest and pulse just until the fish absorbs the spice paste.


To form the parcels, you must first soften the banana leaves: Bring a saucepan filled with water to a boil. Working with 1 piece of leaf at a time and using tongs, dip the leaf into the boiling water for a few seconds. Lift it out, drain well and place, shiny side down, on a work surface so that the grain runs horizontally to you. Place a few basil leaves in the midsection of the leaf. Spread 3 tablespoons of the fish mixture down the middle (along the grain), forming a flat log about 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) wide by 4 inches (10 cm) long. Scatter a few of the remaining lime leaf slivers or lime zest shreds and slivers of red chili on top. Fold the bottom and top edges over the filling, overlapping in the middle. Press down and flatten the ends; seal both ends with toothpicks to form flat parcels. Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling. The parcels may be formed several hours in advance and refrigerated.

Prepare a fire in a charcoal grill. When the coals are ash white, position the grill rack 3-4 inches from the coals and place the parcels on it. Grill, turning once, until the parcels feel firm when pressed, about 3 minutes per side.

Serve the parcels hot, warm or at room temperature. Remove the leaf to eat.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Owen. All rights reserved.

RecID 2435

nutrition information per serving

77 calories; 5g total fat; 17mg cholesterol; 117mg sodium; 3g carbohydrates; 1g fiber; 6g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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