• Sea bass steamed in banana leaf (Luke Nguyens' Food Trail)Source: Luke Nguyens' Food Trail

The galangal and turmeric add a fragrant aroma to the fish, whilst the tart green mango salad gives a refreshing kick. 






Skill level

Average: 3.5 (5 votes)


  • 500 g piece sea bass or barramundi, skin on, cut into 4 even pieces
  • sea salt, to season
  • 4 pieces banana leaves, about 40 cm long 
  • 1 cup finely shredded green mango
  • 1 long red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 4 perilla leaves, sliced
  • 4 mint leaves, sliced
  • 6 dried goji berries, soaked in water for 30 min, drained


  • 2 tsp pounded galangal (about 2 cm piece)
  • 1 tbsp pounded fresh turmeric (about 4 cm piece)
  • 1 tbsp pounded lemongrass (1 stalk)
  • 1 tsp pounded garlic
  • ½ tsp red curry powder
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce

Nuoc cham

  • 60 ml (¼ cup) fish sauce
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 125 ml (½ cup water)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 red birds eye chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp lime juice

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.


Marinading time: 10 min

For the marinade, combine the pounded galangal, turmeric, lemongrass and garlic in a mortar and pound with a pestle to make a fine paste. Transfer the paste to a mixing bowl, add the remaining marinade ingredients and stir to combine.

Season the fish with sea salt, then add to the marinade, turn to coat well and stand for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the nuoc cham, place the fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to just below boiling point, then set aside to cool. Stir in the garlic, chilli and lime juice. Makes 1 cup. 

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and place a bamboo or stainless steel steamer basket on top.

Wave the banana leaves over an open flame such as the stove or place on a preheated chargrill very briefly (this softens them so they're workable). Place the banana leaves, shiny side-down on a work surface. Place a piece of fish in the centre of each and wrap up to completely enclose. Place the parcels in the steamer basket, folded-side down first and cook for 6–8 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the fish.

Place the green mango, chilli, herbs and 2 tablespoons nuoc cham in a bowl and toss to combine. 

Transfer the banana leaf parcels to serving plates, then use scissors cut the top of the parcels. Scatter with the green mango salad and drained goji berries.



●The nuoc cham will make more than you need but keeps well in the refrigerator for up 2 weeks.


Luke Nguyen's Food Trail airs 8pm, Thursdays on SBS and then you can catch-up on SBS On Demand. Visit the program page for recipes, videos and more.