The large flexible leaves of the banana tree are used all throughout Asia to wrap food for steaming or baking. They keep the food moist and impart a mild flavour so are perfect for baking large whole fish such as this.
- 6 large banana leaves, or enough to wrap the fish easily (see Note)
- 1 whole barramundi, about 3 kg, scaled and cleaned (or gold band snapper, red snapper or coral trout)
- salt and pepper
- ¼ bunch dill, chopped
- ¼ bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped
- 1 long red fresh chilli, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 100 ml olive oil
- juice and finely grated zest of 2 limes
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 50 g soft brown sugar
- 2 long fresh red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 golden shallot, finely chopped
- 6 coriander roots, washed well and minced
- 1 spring onion (scallion), finely chopped
- ground black pepper, to taste
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.
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
Place half the banana leaves on a work surface and lay the fish on top. Season the fish all over with salt and pepper and rub it thoroughly into the fish. Scatter with the herbs, chilli and massage into the fish and inside the cavity. Splash the olive oil all over the fish, then place the remaining banana leaves on top and wrap the fish securely. Place in a large roasting pan and bake for 70 minutes or until just cooked through.
Meanwhile, to make the dressing, place the lime juice, ﬁsh sauce, soy sauce and sugar in a bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the remaining ingredients, season with pepper and mix well. Set aside until needed.
Remove the fish from the oven and carefully lift it out of the roasting tray and onto a serving platter. Unwrap the fish, then pour over the dressing and serve with the sambals and the achara.
• Before using the banana leaves, rinse them well, then blanch in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and pat dry. You can use aluminium foil as an alternative.
A Christmas Feast with Peter Kuruvita airs Friday, 23 December, 3.25pm on SBS.