Cooking food in banana leaves is one of those things that I have always wanted to do because it seems like a cooking technique that can easily be transferred from steamer, to grill, to oven and pan. I don’t really have good excuse as to why I hadn’t done it before other than pure lack of motivation. Shiva thus far has largely been teaching me vegan/vegetarian dishes, so it was a little exciting to broach the animal protein barrier. Shiva just asked me to pick up fish, and I didn’t know if we were cooking the fish whole or in fillets so I brought over this guy, which is a Golden Tile from New Jersey, whose head I am cutting off.
After the fish was butchered (I kept the body left overs for stock) we cut the fish into portions and sprinkled the fish with 1 teaspoon salt. Then we took 1 teaspoon of turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder and rubbed the spices into the fish. Then we just sprinkled with fish with 1/2 teaspoon more salt.
Banana leaves are surprisingly available because they can be frozen, and are easy to handle. You can just tear off strips to the size you need.
Put the fish on a piece of leaf, add mustard sauce and just fold and tie with butchers twine. Pop into a 400F preheated oven and cook for 5 minutes, longer if you want your fish more cooked. You can either remove the fish from the leaf or just open the packets and sprinkle with cilantro and serve. This really did render beautifully, moist, flaky and flavorful fish and can be cooked with pretty much any fish you have on hand.