Saturday, 17 November 2012

Nga Baung Doke - Fish in Banana Leaves

Nga Baung Doke - Fish in Banana Leaves

This Burmese dish is very common way of cooking firm fleshed fishes in Myanmar. The country gets it fresh water fishes from the the great water ways of Irrawaddy River and fresh sea fishes from Bay of Bengal. The banana trees are one of the most common fruits, whose leaves are extensively used for a varieties of purposes like, a plate for eating food, or a cover to keep cooked food or even for wrapping and cooking fish and vegetables. This dish is very much like a dish called Paturi in Bengal or Patrani Machhi by the Sindhi's (populace from Sindh District in present day Pakistan). In case you can't find fresh Banana Leaves (though they are available packed, in US and few other countries, where banana leaves are not very common), you can always use any other broad leaves for wrapping your fish. You can even wrap them in foil, but foil does not impart the exact flavour that comes from leaves.

Preparation Time :  30 minutes
Cooking Time      :  25 minutes
Difficulty              :  Medium
Serves                  :  4 - 8 (Makes 8 pieces)

Ingredients :

  • 750 g Fillets of Firm Fish (Fillets should be 8 in number)
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Turmeric
  • 2 medium Onions
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated Fresh Ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1 tablespoon thick Coconut Milk (if you are using packaged, use Coconut Cream) 
  • 1 tablespoon Ground Rice
  • 2 teaspoons Sesame Oil (This imparts a nutty flavour, which is unique)
  • 8 leaves of Chinese Mustard Cabbage (or use normal Cabbage leaves)
  • Large pieces of Banana Leaf or Aluminium Foil
  • Few springs fresh Coriander Leaves (optional)


    Method :

      1) Cut fish into 8 pieces of equal size wash and dry well. 
      2) Sprinkle fillets with half the salt, pepper and turmeric. Leave aside while preparing remaining ingredients.
      3) Slice one onion and set aside.
      4) Chop the other onion and put into container of electric blender with garlic and ginger, chili powder and coconut milk. Blend to a puree.
      5) Mix puree with remaining salt, pepper, turmeric, ground rice and sesame oil.
      6) Put in the pieces of fish and mix well.
      7) Slice the thick middle rib out of the mustard cabbage leaves and keep on another dish.( you can use normal cabbage leaves, if mustard cabbage is not available).
      8) Cut banana leaves into pieces large enough to wrap the pieces of fish and scald them or hold over heat to make them pliable.
      9) On each piece of banana leaf put a leaf of mustard cabbage and on it a piece of fish and some of the spice mixture.
      10) Top with a few coriander leaves (optional) and some of the sliced onion.
      11) Wrap fish first in the cabbage leaf, then make a parcel with the banana leaf.
      12) Fasten with short bamboo skewers or wooden toothpicks. Alternatively wrap in foil.
      13) Put water in a steamer and put it over medium - high heat. Bring it to boil.
      14) Now carefully place the wrapped fish on the steamer plate, bring down the heat to medium - low and steam the fish over gently boiling water for 20 25 minutes. Turning once in-between.
      15) Once the fishes are done, serve in the leaves. It is the custom for the guests  or who ever eats it, to open their parcels on their own plates.
      16) Serve a bowl of white rice along side.

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