I am addicted to eating fruit in savoury dishes at the moment so when Chris brought home some baby bass he had spotted going cheap at the end of the day, I immediately looked for a fruity accompaniment. I had a pineapple patiently waiting to meet its fate and decided to give it a good grilling on the BBQ and then use it in a tropical, chilli spiked salsa.
I rarely cook by any method other than BBQ in the ‘summer’ and so needed a way of protecting the bass on the grill. The huge bunches of banana leaves decorating many of the shops in Peckham Rye seemed just the ticket – a bit more exciting than foil anyway.
When I went down to buy some they were nearly all gone and it dawned on me how these shops work; they receive huge gluts of produce, which can sometimes be sold out the same day and not seen again for weeks. When the fresh callaloo comes in, which is exactly what had happened on banana leaf day, bunches are stacked into towering piles on every corner of every stall, around which throngs of people are jostling, rifling and grabbing for the best bunch. It’s usually all gone in the space of a day.
I snagged my banana leaves unscathed and looked to ingredients for the salsa – finely chopped red onion, chilli, coriander and mint to mix with the grilled pineapple. It’s my favourite fruit to BBQ by a mile – either brushed with chilli-lime syrup or ginger or straight up savoury like this, I just love slapping fat slices on the grill. Juicy, sweet, charred and fragrant.
The banana leaves worked a treat too – the bass steamed perfectly inside, stuffed with lime, slivers of scotch bonnet, ginger and herbs, releasing a poof of fragrant steam when unwrapped. Only thing is, now I have a load of leftover banana leaves – those things are pretty massive and I’ve about eight of them – any ideas for other uses?
BBQ Bass in Banana Leaves with Grilled Pineapple Salsa
2 sea bass or other white fish suitable for stuffing and steaming
2 banana leaves
Skewers or cocktail sticks to seal the leaves (soaked for 20 minutes in cold water)
4 slices lime + extra juice of 1 lime
4 slices ginger
4 slivers scotch bonnet or other chilli (use more or less depending on the heat of the chilli)
Salt and pepper
For the salsa
1 pineapple, cut into thick slices
Small handful coriander leaves picked and roughly chopped
Small handful mint leaves finely shredded
1 small red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
– Light the BBQ. When hot add the pineapple slices until charred in places on both sides.
– Open out a banana leaf and oil the part which will come into contact with the fish. Stuff the belly of the fish with 2 ginger slices, 2 lime slices and half the herbs and chilli. Squeeze a bit of lime juice in and season all over. Wrap the leaf up as best you can to contain the fish and secure with skewers or sticks. Repeat with the second fish and put on the BBQ, lid on. The cooking time will depend on the size of your fish. I cooked mine for about 20 minutes.
– While the fish is cooking, dice the pineapple and mix with the other ingredients.
– Serve fish with salsa and enjoy!