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Ginger Garlic Fish in Banana Leaves

Snap out of it! Healthy eating doesn’t mean boring eating!

Steaming fish is a healthy way to cook without adding extra fat or calories. But, here’s the problem: fish fillets often fall apart in a steamer. So, here’s the solution: wrap the fish fillets in banana leaves! It will not only help the fillets keep their shape, but also add an enticing exotic flavor.

If you’ve never used banana leaves, this is a great starter recipe. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to wrap the fish in little banana leaf packets. Get creative! Substitute chopped chicken or pork for the fish and add whatever veggies you have on hand.

You can find banana leaves in ethnic markets or large supermarkets. You’ll probably have an extra leaf or two… let the kids take them to school for show and tell!

Photograph by Christina Chavez

RECIPE: Ginger Garlic Fish in Banana Leaves

Serves 4

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 8 to 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes


● 2 tablespoons minced ginger

● 2 cloves garlic, minced

● 3 tablespoons soy sauce

● 1 teaspoon rice or white wine vinegar

● ½ cup scallions, divided

● 4 fish fillets, 4-ounces each (cod, halibut, red snapper or grouper work best)

● 1 cup thinly sliced red and green peppers

● 8 ounces banana leaves, cut into four 10-inch squares and softened

● ¼ cup cilantro for garnish (optional)


Fill a large pot with enough water to come ½-inch up the side. Place a steamer inside.

Whisk the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar and ¼ cup scallions together in small bowl; set aside. You can also mix these ingredients in a blender.

Place one fillet, topside down, in the center of one banana leaf. Top with ¼ cup red and green peppers. Spoon on 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic sauce. Fold over sides and ends of leaf to enclose fillet. Place folded side down on the steamer in the pot. Repeat to make four packets.

Cover pot and bring water to a bowl. Steam 8 to 10-minutes (figure 10-minutes per inch of thickness).

Remove packets from steamer with a spatula. Place on a plate; carefully cut open and garnish with remaining scallions and cilantro.

Two Ways to Soften Banana Leaves:

● Hold banana leaf with tongs and quickly pass over a gas burner on medium heat until pliable. Do this quickly so they don’t get brittle.

● Place banana leaves in a large saucepan of boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes or until soft and shiny.

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