Grilled sea bass in banana leaves

Grilled sea bass in banana leaves

Cabana The Cookbook
Martin Poole

Wrapping fish in banana leaves is popular in Brasil, where banana trees grow in abundance. Banana leaves are available in Asian or Latin American grocers, but you can substitute kitchen foil. You could also use other firm white fish such as sea bream, hake or whiting.


Quantity Ingredient
4 small whole sea bass, scaled and gutted
4 large banana leaves
4 limes, sliced
8 thick slices fresh root ginger
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 red chillies, thinly sliced
large handful mint leaves, roughly chopped

For the marinade

Quantity Ingredient
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1 lime, finely zested and juiced
2 teaspoons soft brown sugar
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


  1. Light the barbecue, preferably one with a lid, and let the flames die down before starting to cook. Alternatively, preheat the oven to 200°C. Soak 8 wooden cocktail sticks for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Rinse the sea bass and pat it dry with kitchen paper, then score the flesh on both sides. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Open the banana leaves and brush each one with a little olive oil. Place a sea bass in the middle of each leaf, then spoon over the marinade. Stuff the belly cavities of the fish with the sliced lime, ginger, garlic, chillies and mint leaves. Wrap the banana leaf around each one to form a loose parcel, then secure the ends with the cocktail sticks.
  3. Place the parcels on the barbecue and close the lid, if you have one. Alternatively, cook on a baking tray in the oven. Cook for 20–25 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the fish. Serve in the parcels. It’s great with grilled pineapple, mango salsa and coconut rice.
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