Get ready to have some fiery fun in the kitchen with this Flaming Charcoal Fish in Banana Leaves. Chunky fish steak + unbelievably delicious tomato-based sauce + banana leaves + FIRE. Lots and lots of fire. You might want to get that extinguisher ready.
This hearty banana-leaf-wrapped deliciousness comes to you all the way from Hoi An, Vietnam, but what sets it apart from other recipes (like this light and creamy Lao Steamed Fish), is that you get to set this one ON FIRE.
On that cold and gloomy morning in Hoi An we ventured to a bustling local market to buy some fresh mackerel, then wandered through the local veggie farm to pick up a few fresh herbs for this tasty little paperless spring roll appetizer.
Thankfully, we juuust made it back to the kitchen before the clouds made good on their dark promises and doused everything with rain.
Yep it was the perfect morning to set this Flaming Charcoal Fish on fire.
And they made me hold the pan.
Can you even imagine? Me.
Ms ‘Accidentally-Throw-Everything-On-The-Floor’… Holding a flaming pan.
Both the fish and its spicy tomato and oyster sauce marinade were ready to be fed to the flames and transformed into delicious awesomeness.
I grabbed hold of the sauce while Sarah took charge of flash frying the fish.
Maybe I should have mentioned my expert skills in ‘clumsiness’ before signing up for this?
Flashing an unsure grin I quickly grabbed hold of the pan, tipped in the rum and…
There was definitely fire. I know this because I felt the heat and because Sarah took many photos.
Meanwhile I was way too busy shielding my face and hoping I hadn’t set the kitchen on fire along with the pan.
Nose hairs? Check.
In case you don’t have adult supervision of your own, here’s a handy guide on how to control a grill flare up!Do you like playing with fire? This fish is flamin' awesome! Click To Tweet
The next task was to ‘flame’ the banana leaves and get them ready for grilling – a very important, very easy (and super super fun!) step in our flame-filled process.
We did this by passing them carefully over a low flame on the stove to release the moisture trapped in the leaf and make them soft and easy to fold.
Did I mention it was fun?
Aaaaas long as you don’t put your fingers too close to the flame, that is.
Not that I ever did that.
But we weren’t finished with fire just yet.
After wrapping our flamed fish and flamed sauce in flamed banana leaves it was time to flame it up again – local style – over a Vietnamese charcoal fire.
Again it was my job to conjure the flames into life, this time with a traditional handwoven fan.
It was hot work! (Ha ha). But totally worth it to watch the grey coals start to glow with orange fire.
Now this is charcoal fish…
(Don’t worry if you don’t have a charcoal grill handy – a griddle pan or BBQ will work just fine!)
Once the charcoal fish parcel turned flaky and black we transferred it to a plate and pulled it open to reveal the soft and tender fish inside.
It’s To. Die. For.
(Disclaimer: Please don’t actually die for this!).
I’m not gonna lie.
We were not elegant eating this fish. Fired up after all that cooking we were so ready to eat.
Ripping it apart with our chopsticks because we were too lazy to find spoons just made it even more fun.
What are your experiences with fire in the kitchen? Have you ever needed to use a fire extinguisher or sacrifice patch of grass on your back lawn?
- 1 piece tuna or mackerel fillet
- 2 banana leaves approx. 30 cm square
- 1 to mato diced
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 small chilli sliced into long thin strips
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp sweet and sour fish sauce
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1-2 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp rum optional
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp peanut oil
- Wash fish fillet twice, first in cold water and second in warm water seasoned with salt. Drain.
- Heat oil in a frypan over a medium high heat. Add the fish and fry both sides until golden brown. This will take around 5 minutes.
- OPTIONAL: To get a nice grill flare, add in 1 tbsp rum and fry quickly until the flame goes out. Be careful with this step so you don’t get burnt!
- Once cooked, remove from heat and set aside.
- In a separate pan heat the peanut oil and add the garlic. Bring to a high heat then add the diced tomatoes. Beware of more flare ups! Add in the soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sweet and sour fish sauce, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes.
- Pour the sauce over the fish and cook another 3 minutes.
- Prepare the banana leaves for cooking: carefully run the banana leaf across the stove flame until the leaf goes from dry to moist and bright green.
- Stack both pieces of banana leaf together on a flat surface. Place the fish in the centre and cover with tomato sauce. Top with sesame seeds and chilli slices.
- Fold the banana leaves over the fish and place into a metal grill frame (or pin the sides with toothpicks/skewers if you don’t have one).
- Grill for 2-3 minutes each side. The outside banana leaf will turn black, while the inside leaf will retain the sauce.
- Place on a serving dish and unwrap the banana leaf to reveal the fish.
- Serve with freshly steamed rice.