Posted on | August 6, 2007 | 28 Comments |
Cooking food wrapped in Banana leaves is an age old technique in Kerala. Our fish pollichathu is the most delicious form of fish that I’ve ever eaten! I wasn’t surprised to learn that the same technique is followed in other Asian countries too. Cooking this way keeps the food moist with all its natural juices collected inside the leaf packet. Also the banana leaf itself imparts its natural flavor and fragrance into the food.
Instead of a traditional fish Pollichathu recipe, I decided to make up my own marinade this time, and just made up stuff along the way. This is a versatile recipe, substitute with your favorite marinade.
BTW, it is tricky to get the banana leaf wrap right. So we wrapped the banana leaf packets in a layer of aluminum foil, just to keep it safe.
Here is a pic of it fresh from the grill, inside the banana leaves:
We had it with a side salad, and some Sauvignon Blanc, a great combo.
- 4 medium sized whole Trout cleaned (keep the head and tail if you want to take a picture afterwards or if you are serving to guests)
- Butter /oil for brushing
- Banana leaves – make sure the pieces are big enough to wrap the fish in.
- For the marinade
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- 7-8 cloves of garlic
- 1 tbsp rosemary
- 6 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp paprika
- Salt to taste
- For the stuffing
- thin round Onion slices – 8 pieces
- thin round lime slices – 8 pieces
- a few Slit green chili peppers
- thinly sliced ginger pieces – 8 pieces
- a few curry leaves
- Make a few gashes on both sides of the fish.
- Blend all the ingredients for the marinade in a blender or spice grinder, to form a smooth paste.
- Apply the paste liberally to the fish inside and out, including the gashes.
- Marinate in the fridge for about 2 hours or more.
- Clean the banana leaves, and sprinkle a little water. Keep the leaves in the microwave and heat on high for a minute. This will make sure that the leaves won’t break while wrapping.
- Lay the banana leaf flat on a clean surface, shiny side down, and grease the other side with the butter/oil.
- Lay the marinated fish in the middle of the leaf.
- Stuff the fish with two each of onion , lime and ginger slices. Stuff the top gashes with slit chili peppers, also throw a few inside the fish. Put some curry leaves on top of the fish and wrap the banana leaves around the fish to enclose the fish completely. Use toothpicks to secure the packet.
- Wrap the entire package in a sheet of aluminum foil.
- Repeat the process to make four fish packets.
- Keep the fish packets on a pre-heated grill with the folded side down and cook for about 10 minutes. Turn and cook for another 10 minutes on the other side.
- Remove from the grill, and let it rest for couple of minutes. Open the packets carefully, there might be some steam accumulated inside.
- Serve hot garnished with some lime wedges.
The banana leaves imparted such aroma and flavor, the smell was out of this world! The fish was so moist and juicy. I thought the marinade was a little too subtle. Since trout is such a tasty fish, it was enough, but next time I would make a stronger marinade, and a little thicker too. I might add some coarse ground coconut for better texture.
The technique is surely a keeper, apart from the taste and the smell, the cleaning up part was the best! If you have ever grilled whole marinated fish directly, you know how much skin and spices stick on the grill! But in this case, absolutely no clean up at all!
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