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What to do with a White Sea Bass??

September 30, 2012

Cook it!!.  Years ago Terri had a really good fish dish in Hawaii.  Fish in a Banana Leaf, and we wanted to try to replicate the recipe.   Terri’s sisters came down to celebrate her Birthday and helped cook the meal.  It is more work than we would normally do for just the 2 of us. You could make the packets ahead and have them ready to pop in the oven for an easier meal with guests, or you could make a party of it and have every one help in the preparation.  It was well worth the effort and a great way to spend time together.

Banana Leaf Wrapped White Sea Bass


2 1/2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

1 Tbsp minced garlic

1 shallot minced

2 Tbsp vegetarian mushroom oyster sauce (could substitute soy sauce)

1 Tbsp lime juice

½ Tsp lime zest

2 Tsp grapeseed oil (could substitute canola or corn)


Fish Packets:

1.5 lbs Sea Bass, (4 – 6oz pieces) (could substitute other light/mild fish such as rockfish)

4 large banana leaves (10-12 inch length)

1 Tbsp sesame oil

2-3 oz canned coconut milk (use rest of can in coconut rice recipe that follows)

1 fresh Anaheim chili cut into fine strips

1/8 cup of fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced

2 stalks of lemongrass, finely minced

1 large clove of garlic minced

1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves

8 fresh basil leaves

Juice and zest of 2 limes

Optional – 4 rosemary sprigs for decoration


  • Preheat oven to 415º
  • Combine Marinade ingredients in a baking dish. Place fish pieces in marinade and turn to coat.  Let stand for at least 10 minutes.


  • If using fresh banana leaves, dip them in boiling water for 3-5 seconds to soften.  (or you can run over open flame of stove to soften)  If frozen, the boiling water step is not necessary
  • Place Leaves shiny side down on work surface
  • Rub leaves with a little of the sesame oil
  • Assemble each leaf:

Sprinkle a little coconut milk over leaf.

Divide chilies, ginger, lemongrass, cilantro and Garlic and place on the 4 banana leaves


Place marinated Fish portion on top of ingredients

Put zest & juice of ½ line over each piece of fish

Top each fish portion with 2 basil leaves


  • Fold in sides of banana leaf over fish and then fold ends over to meet in middle. Use cooking string to tie up packet.
  • Optional – Tie rosemary sprig on each packet


  • Place the “packets” on foil lined baking tray and place into preheated oven.
  • Bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes (If fish is less than 1″ thick, reduce cooking time to 15 mins)


  • Serve with Coconut Rice recipe that follows.  We also made a Broccolli and Mushroom stir fry.

Coconut Rice

2 cups Thai jasmine-scented white rice

Remaining coconut milk (from above recipe or 1 cup)

2 cups water * (enough so that coconut milk and water = 3 cups)

1/2 tsp. salt

Add 2 pinches (about 1/16 tsp)  of each ground cardamom, turmeric, allspice, cloves and cinnamon (or combo that you think you might like of “sweet” spices)

3 Tbsp. shredded coconut


Place rice in a rice cooker (I have not made this on the stove, but think it would probably work if you kept the temp low). Stir in the water, coconut milk, salt, ground spices and shredded coconut. Cover and set to cook use the white rice setting)

Once your rice cooker switches to “warm” mode, let rice sit 10 minutes for rice to finish “steaming”

Gently stir and fluff rice before serving


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