Skill level

Average: 3.3 (85 votes)


  • 2 m-length banana leaves (see Note), cut into 10 x 20 cm x 23 cm rectangles
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
  • 325 g red snapper fillets or firm white fish fillets, thinly sliced
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) coconut milk
  • 50 betel leaves (see Note)

Spice paste

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 long red chillies, sliced
  • 3 large dried red chillies, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
  • ½ lemongrass stalk, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 2 cm-piece turmeric, chopped or ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp dried shrimp paste (belacan) (see Note)

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


You will need 10 toothpicks for this recipe.

Place banana leaves in a saucepan of boiling water for 5 minutes or until softened. Refresh leaves in a bowl of iced water. Drain on paper towel and set aside.

To make spice paste, process all ingredients and 1 tbsp water in a food processor to a smooth paste, adding more water if necessary. Transfer to a large bowl, add ¼ tsp salt, egg and kaffir lime leaves and stir until combined. Add fish, turn to coat, then gradually add coconut milk. Stir to combine and set aside.

To make parcels, lay one piece of banana leaf on a flat surface, with the long edge facing you. Place 3 betel leaves, shiny-side down, in the centre of the banana leaf. Add a heaped tablespoonful of fish mixture and top with 2 more betel leaves. Fold the long edge closest to you to the top edge, enclosing the filling, then fold in the short edges until they overlap in the centre. Secure with a toothpick. Repeat filling and folding parcels with the remaining banana leaves, betel leaves and fish mixture.

Place parcels in a large steamer set over a saucepan of simmering water and steam for 10 minutes or until filling is firm. Serve warm.


Banana leaves, betel leaves and dried shrimp paste are available from Asian food shops and selected greengrocers.

As seen in Feast Magazine, Issue 12, pg53.

Photography by Chris Chen