Spicy Catfish Fillets in Banana Leaves

Author: Canadian Living

Grilling fish in banana leaves keeps in all the juices and adds a distinctive smoky taste, complemented here with an aromatic spice paste. Banana leaves are sold frozen at most Southeast Asian and Latin American grocery stores. Heating the leaves before wrapping makes them stronger and more flexible. You also can wrap the fish in foil, but it will not have a smoky flavour.

  • Portion size 4 servings
  • Credits : Canadian Living Magazine, June 2002


  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper flakes
  • 1 lemongrass stalk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted roasted cashew
  • 1 roasted sweet red pepper peeled and seeded
  • 1/2 onion coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped gingerroot
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 pkg (14 oz/397 g) banana leaves
  • 4 catfish fillets about 6 oz (175 g) each
  • lime wedges


In small skillet, toast hot pepper flakes over medium heat until slightly darkened and fragrant, about 1 minute; set aside.

Remove tough outer layer of lemongrass. Trim off and discard green and dried tops; finely chop remaining stalk.

In food processor, pulse together toasted hot pepper flakes, lemongrass, cashews, red pepper, onion, garlic, lime juice, oil, ginger and fish sauce until fine paste. Set aside.

Rinse and wipe banana leaves. Cut into 4 pieces, about 14 x 10 inches (35 x 25 cm) each. Place on greased grill over medium-high heat; cook until shiny and darkened slightly, about 30 seconds per side.

Trim off thick brown vein of each. Pull 4 strands from remaining leaves for ties. Divide spice paste into quarters. Spread half of one quarter on dull side of leaf; cover with fillet and top with remaining half of paste. Fold leaf to make neat packet. (If leaf breaks, cover with piece of leaf.) Tie securely with strand. Repeat with remaining leaves. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate for up to 2 hours.)

Place packets on greased grill over medium-high heat; close lid and cook, turning once, until lightly charred, 14 to 16 minutes. To serve, cut “X” with scissors from opposite corners of each packet to open. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze over top.

Nutritional facts Per serving: about

  • Sodium 381 mg
  • Protein 33 g
  • Calories 311.0
  • Total fat 16 g
  • Cholesterol 78 mg
  • Saturated fat 2 g
  • Total carbohydrate 10 g


  • Iron 9.0
  • Fibre 0.0
  • Folate 13.0
  • Sodium 0.0
  • Sugars 0.0
  • Calcium 3.0
  • Protein 0.0
  • Calories 0.0
  • Total fat 0.0
  • Vitamin A 30.0
  • Vitamin C 58.0
  • Potassium 0.0
  • Cholesterol 0.0
  • Saturated fat 0.0
  • Total carbohydrate 0.0
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Spicy Catfish Fillets in Banana Leaves