Fish in banana leaf and stuffed lemongrass

Continuing the story of our culinary adventures at Tamarind Restaurant’s cooking class in Luang Prabang, Laos, after making sticky rice and Lao “dips”, we started work on a classic Lao dish – Mok Pa (fish steamed in banana leaf).

Here’s the recipe for four people:


Sticky rice powder
5 shallots
3 cloves garlic
1 chili (or to taste)
3 kaffir lime leaves
salt to taste
3 tablespoons chopped dill
2 tablespoons chopped basil
3 small spring onions, chopped
4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon fish sauce
300g white fish fillets, roughly cubed
8 banana leaf rectangles


Using a mortar and pestle, pound the shallots, garlic, chili, lime leaves, salt and sticky rice powder.

Add the dill, basil and spring onions and pound further (great for getting rid of pent up frustrations!).

Add water and fish sauce and stir.

Stir in fish pieces.

Run each banana leaf over a flame until it softens. Do not burn!

Take two banana leaf rectangles and place one on top of the other at right angles.

Put a quarter of the solids on the centre of the leaf:

Then fold each side up, securing with a toothpick or twine:

Steam gently for 20-30 minutes or until cooked through:

and enjoy:

Next we moved on to something a little more complicated, Ua Si Khai (stuffed lemongrass).

This recipe would serve 4 people as a snack or appetiser.


5 cloves garlic, chopped
4-6 medium spring onions, chopped
3/4 cup chopped coriander
1 kaffir lime leaf, finely sliced
heaping tablespoon of salt
200g minced chicken (or beef or pork, or… at a pinch, tofu…)
12 stalks lemongrass, outside leaves removed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup oil for frying

Using a mortar and pestle or a food processor, pount the garlic, spring onions, coriander, kaffir lime leaf and salt.

Add meat and combine well.

Using a sharp knife and starting about 1cm from the base of the lemongrass, make a cut right through the stalk for about 4-5cm. Be sure to stop short of the end so that it doesn’t completely fall apart. Rotate the stalk a quarter turn and repeat. Continue until you have slits all around the stalk.

Insert small spoonfuls of the meat into the central core formed by the “slats” you just cut:

Dip the packages into the beaten egg and deep fry:

Alternatively, you can grill them over an open flame:

Either way – delicious!

All recipes courtesy of Tamarind Restaurant.

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