01 of 09
Step 1: Get Yourself Some Banana Leaves
Banana leaves can be purchased at Asian and Chinese food stores (or online). Look for them in the freezer section, where they are usually sold frozen in plastic packages, as shown, for anywhere from just $1.50 to $3. (Be sure to allow a half-hour for banana leaves to thaw before using.)Continue to 2 of 9 below.
02 of 09
Step 2: Cut a Rectangular Piece of Banana Leaf
Using scissors, cut out a rectangle approximately 10 to 12 inches long by 4 to 6 inches wide (this will hold a small to medium sized salmon steak, or a reasonably-sized salad or dessert portion).Continue to 3 of 9 below.
03 of 09
Step 3: Rinse the Banana Leaf
Rinse the rectangular piece of the banana leaf under hot running water. Gently shake off excess water, or pat dry. Heat helps bring out the natural oils and bright green color of the banana leaf.Continue to 4 of 9 below.
04 of 09
Step 4: Fold One of the Ends
Gently fold over the end, then lift the sides together. This will make one end of the boat.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Step 5: Secure the End
In the example shown, a stapler is used to staple the end together. This works well, but you can also try using a toothpick or the end of a satay stick, weaving it through the leaf to hold it in place.Continue to 6 of 9 below.
06 of 09
Step 6: Do the Same with the Other End
Now do the same with the other end, gently folding over and lifting both sides together. Again, secure this end of the boat.Continue to 7 of 9 below.
07 of 09
Step 7: Make Extra Tucks in the Sides
Depending on what you're putting in your boats, you may want to give additional support to the sides (especially for heavier items, such as fish). To do this, simply make a small tuck on each side of the boat, securing them with a staple.Continue to 8 of 9 below.
08 of 09
Step 8: Fill Your Banana Leaf Boats
Now you can fill your banana leaf boats with prepared fish or other seafood for cooking (these boats can be baked, steamed, even grilled). Or, use them just for serving. Banana boats are perfect for serving up all types of Asian-themed dishes including salads, any type of seafood, rice (especially sticky rice or coconut rice), and desserts. See the next step for a serving suggestion.
Banana leaves are porous and do tend to leak. To prevent this, you can try doubling the thickness of your boats... (cutting out two rectangles for each boat). Or, line each boat with a little wax paper, tin foil, or parchment paper. Place the boats in a container or on a baking sheet if using them for cooking. If serving guests, try making extra boats and transfer the cooked or prepared item into a fresh boat right before serving.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
Step 9: Serving Your Banana Leaf Boats
Here is one serving/cooking suggestion for these boats -- salmon steaks smothered in a Thai red curry sauce are placed in banana boats and then baked in a casserole dish in the oven. If entertaining guests, consider transferring the cooked fish into a fresh boat right before serving.
More Banana Leaf Recipes