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Grilled Spicy Banana Leaf Salmon

Let me introduce you to a fantastic cooking technique using banana leaf to wrap foods before grilling over a live fire. This centuries old Asian method infuses and incorporated an unmistakable tropical fragrance to foods and preserves the natural flavor within the waxy banana leaf cooking pouch. Often a brightly flavored paste made of aromatic herbs mixed with chili, curry, or fermented pastes (black beans, soy, miso, fish sauce) is added before the meat is wrapped up. A sweet fragrant liquid such as coconut milk (not coconut juice) is added for provide moisture and a thickener such as beaten egg and rice flour is added to bind the mixture together. This approach works particularly well for all kinds of seafood like fish and shellfish, and it’s perfect with steamed rice or stir-fried noodles.

In my super easy version, I use my favorite fish which is salmon as the spice marinade on salmon is just amazing. The combination of the charcoal smoke, charred banana leaf, deeply fragrant herbs and spices, and perfectly cooked salmon goes really well with jasmine rice cooked in coconut milk. You’re not limited to salmon, and you can substitute any fish you prefer like trout, catfish, Tilapia, or snapper. My recipe also works well for shrimp, lobster, squid, and scallops. If you are headed to a tailgate party or going camping, you can prepare the spice mixture ahead of time in a plastic bag. Bring the fish in a separate bag. Mix the two ingredients onsite and cook it using aluminum foil.

  • Total Time: 40 mins
  • Yield: 12 1x


Units Scale


  • 12 pieces 6 inch X 12 inch banana leaves (frozen) for 12 appetizer portions
  • Gallon plastic Ziploc bag
  • Toothpicks


  • 1 1/2 pound skinless salmon filet, cut into pencil thick slices (makes about 12 pouches or 12 appetizer servings)

Spice Marinade

  • 2 tablespoons SYD All Purpose Rub
  • 2 tablespoons Thai Red or Thai Panang curry paste (or substitute with 2 tablespoon of dry curry powder)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce (or use soy sauce if you cannot find fish sauce)
  • 2 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon rice flour or cornstarch
  • 3/4 unpacked cup of chopped herbs (I like Thai basil + mint for an Asian flair. You can also try tarragon + mint, or basil + thyme. Feel free to experiment with herb combinations you like)

Coconut Rice

  • 3 1/2 cups Jasmine or long-grain rice, washed
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Optional – garnish with fried shallot


  1. Cut banana leaves into 6” X 12” rectangles. If you’re reading my recipe and you are in a country that has fresh banana leaves, you have to dip the squares into a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes to soften so it’s easier to wrap. Remove and rinse leaves under faucet to cool after boiling. If you are in the US, the leaves are frozen and sold in Asian stores. For frozen leaves, you don’t need to pre-boil and they are already pliable. You can use foil if you don’t have access to banana leaves.
  2. Mix spice paste and put into a gallon Ziploc bag. Add fish pieces and marinate in fridge for an hour. If you are in a hurry, skip the resting period.
  3. Place about a few pieces of fish in the center of the banana leaf. Spoon on some of the spicy herbaceous eggy marinade.
  4. Fold one edge of the banana leaf to cover the fish. If you’re using banana leaves, you must fold with the leaf grain. If you go against the grain, the pouch will crack and break.
  5. Fold the other edge in and fasten using toothpicks on each end. Repeat until all the fish pieces are used up. You can store these pouches in the fridge if you’re not cooking them immediately.
  6. Grill your fish pouches over medium-low heat until the leaves are evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Do not flip or turn.
  7. Serve with some coconut rice. I cooked mine in a half foil pan and made more so I could freeze and reheat later. Alternatively, cook rice in heat proof pan in 350F oven; about 45-60 minutes until rice has dried out, fluff with fork, add 1 cup water, cover with foil and cook another 10 minutes. Remove, fluff, cover, and keep warm.
  • Author: Harry Soo
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Cuisine: Asian