Mok Pa: Steamed Fish in Banana Leaves
This delicate, fragrant dish is the perfect healthy entree.
Looks impressive and labor-intensive but it's actually quite easy and quick to prepare. Banana leaves optional!
- 3 tbsp sticky rice powder (sub corn starch)
- 5 shallots, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 4 Thai chilies
- 1 lemongrass stalk, finely chopped
- 4 kafir lime leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch of dill
- 1 bunch Lao basil (sub Thai or regular basil)
- 2 small spring onions, chopped
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 white fish filets, like Talapia
- Salt to taste
- 4 banana leaves about 21x25 cm (found frozen in most Asian markets. Sub aluminum foil)
- In a mortar and pestle, pound rice powder, garlic, shallots, chilies, lemongrass, and salt into a paste.
- Add dill, lime leaves, basil, and spring onions. Pound into paste.
- Add water and fish sauce and stir to incorporate.
- Stir in fish pieces and cover in marinade. Let sit for 3-5 minutes.
- Hold the darker side of the banana leaves over a small flame for a few seconds until they soften a bit and become shiny. This will allow the leaves to become more flexible when folding. Continue for all leaves and be careful not to burn them.
- Dark sides down, place two banana leaves on top of each other. Put in half of the fish, without the marinade, and fold according to the instructions below. Before closing the package, pour in some marinade. Repeat for all servings of fish, and secure packages with skewers or toothpicks.
- Steam gently for 15 minutes. If using banana leaves, the package will become a khaki color when done.
- Unwrap packages and serve with rice.