Thai Fish Grilled in Banana Leaves

043/18: Thai Fish Grilled in Banana Leaves

043/18: Thai Fish Grilled in Banana Leaves

We live by the coast and are lucky enough to have a good local fishmonger but I haven’t cooked much fish on the grill yet so I am planning on cooking more. Looking through my list I spotted Thai Fish Grilled in Banana Leaves or Aeb pla nin (แอ๊บปลานิล). Remembering some of the awesome fish dishes we had travelling around Asia I quickly added this to the food list for the week!

The Fish:

For this dish I wanted some white fish and was looking for fairly square, thick fillets. Looking in the display the cod looked the best fit. £10 for 600g. Growing up in England, Fish and Chips was always Cod. When I moved to Scotland it’s Haddock.

Ideally, I wanted 4 pieces that looked like the top and bottom ones. All fairly square in shape and similar but not to worry. Thai Fish Grilled in Banana Leaves

The Ingredients:

Another order with Thai Food Online for Banana Leaves, Thai Shallots, Birds eye Chillies, Kaffir Lime, Fresh Tuermeric, Sweet Basil and Holy Basil. The delivery took ages to come through and was resent but then the original parcel turned up as well. Everything else (not much else!) should be easy to get. 

The Prep:

I made the Chilli paste by blitzing Lemongrass, Garlic, Thai Shallots, Dry Thai Chillies, Birds eye Chillies, Kaffir Lime peel, Turmeric and salt.

Thai Fish Grilled in Banana Leaves

The fish was added to the paste mixture and rubbed in thoroughly.

I hadn’t cooked on my Kamado Joe since that first weekend so was keen to fire it up for this cook. Loads of charcoal left from the last cook so I used flamers to get it going again, lid up, vents open and left it 20 minutes before closing the lid, shutting the bottom vent down to 1/3 and top vent to 1/4 which kept the temperature around 250c.

The Banana leaves were laid out and cut into 30cm sections. The dull side was wiped with a wet cloth then Sweet Basil and Holy Basil leaves were laid down. Thai Fish Grilled in Banana Leaves

Each Banana Leaf had 1 fish fillet placed on top of the leaves then Kaffir lime leaves were placed on top.

The next part was fun! Wrapping the fish in the Banana leaves. The photo below are the best 2 I did.

Thai Fish Grilled in Banana Leaves

This photo also shows the first 2 I did which were not as good! The knack appears to be to fold the ends in first, then fold in the side without the ridge running down one edge but fold that side last as it’s stronger. The video I saw had 1 toothpick in to hold it, mine needed 3!

Thai Fish Grilled in Banana Leaves

The Cook:

With the grill steady at 250c I placed the fish on the grill over direct heat. I had the 2nd grill slightly higher in case I needed less heat whilst cooking.

Thai Fish Grilled in Banana Leaves

In the end I dropped the grill to the same height and spread the fish parcels over both halves. Each parcel was flipped every 5 minutes. The smell was really good!

Thai Fish Grilled in Banana Leaves

Time to Eat:

After 15 minutes I felt they “should” be ready, quite hard to cook fish when you can’t see it! Onto the plate with some glutinous rice. 

Thai Fish Grilled in Banana Leaves

Opening up the banana leaf unleashed an explosion of Thai spiced flavours, it smelt amazing!

Thai Fish Grilled in Banana Leaves

Nice white, flaky fish.

Thai Fish Grilled in Banana Leaves


What a great dish. I have been meaning to cook more fish for a while but to be honest I haven’t eaten many fish dishes over the years which have blown me away. This one did though! The smells and taste from the Chilli paste, the basil and kaffir lime leaves was fantastic! The rice was pretty boring, I need to find some recipes to boost the flavour of that a bit as I had great rice out in Asia so need to improve that next time. I would definitely cook this again though.

The thinner fillets were maybe slightly overdone so if I cooked it again I would cook thinner fillets for less time or try to get all thicker fillets and stick to 15 minutes.

Loved cooking on the Kamado Joe again, what a great bit of kit!

Cook Difficulty: 3/5 (for the leaf wrapping!)
Cook Duration: Quick: 2/5
Cook Equipment: Kamado Joe Big Joe
Cook Method: Direct
Charcoal: Kamado Joe Big Lump
Smoking Wood: N/A
Cook temperature: 250c
Cook time: 15 minutes
Internal temperature: Unknown
Notes: 1: Get equal sized fillets and cook slightly less, maybe 12/13 minutes

2: Get a better recipe for glutinous rice.

The Recipe:

I found this recipe online – here.


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