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Sitting here with post-holiday blues, it seems incrdible that only a short while ago I was in beautiful warm Samoa.

Samoa hasn’t always been famous for its food culture but the work of Robert Oliver has done a lot to educate tourists and enourage locals to celebrate the local Pacific food culture. Apia (the main centre on Upolo) has seen an explosion of cafés too and the range and quality of eating options available is expanding all the time.

I enjoyed super-fresh ingredients whilst I was there: taro, breadfruit, pineapples, ginger, chillies, limes, fish (especially tuna), bok choi, eggplants, cocoa Samoa and of course the ever-present coconut in its many forms.

I want to bring some of that fresh approach to my cooking so here is a little recipe for ginger-marinated fish steamed in banana leaves. I ate a very good ginger-marinated fish on Savai’i and this is close to those wonderful flavours… maybe a warm Pacific breeze and a cocktail in my hand helped though!

Still back in Coromandel, we still have wonderful fresh fish and limes are in season, so perhaps being home isn’t so bad after all.

Ginger-marinated fish in banana leaf parcels

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 spring onion, very finely chopped
  • fresh fish (snapper, travally or gurnard would be great Coromandel options)
  • 1 large banana leaf
  • 1 lime

 

Method

  1. Take a large shallow pot with 3-4 cm of water in the bottom and bring to the boil.
  2. Cut the central rib out the banana leaf and rinse the leaves. If they are too firm to bend well, you could blanch them for a minute or two to soften them.
  3. Put a colander, sieve or steamer on top of the water pot.
  4. Cut the fish into equal sized pieces and rub each piece with grated ginger. (If you have time you could leave the fish to marinate for an hour or so). Then sprinkle a small amount of spring onion on top and wrap in a banana leaf square. Use a wooden skewer to hold the parcel shut.
  5. Place in the steamer and steam for 10 minutes or so. I usually make one too many parcels so I can sacrifice one to check the cooking time and make sure the fish is perfectly cooked.
  6. Serve each parcel with a wedge of lime. It is quite nice if each person gets to open their own parcel and then squeeze lime juice on to taste. You could serve the parcels with plain or coconut rice and stir-fried veggies.