The Happy Home Cook: Grilled Salmon and Shrimps in Banana Leaves

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Grilled Salmon and Shrimps in Banana Leaves (Photo by Elizabeth Ann Quirino)

Grilled Salmon and Shrimps in Banana Leaves (Photo by Elizabeth Ann Quirino)

Banana leaves are often used in Philippine cooking. Banana trees thrive throughout Southeast Asia. Grilling fish wrapped in banana leaves is often a Filipino food favorite and yields one of the most flavorful and fragrant entrees. In this simple, easy to do recipe, the banana leaves sealed the ginger-miso flavors within the salmon and shrimps and resulted in a moist, superb seafood dish. This recipe was adapted from a cooking class with Chef Romy Dorotan at Purple Yam Restaurant in Brooklyn, NYC. Serves 2.


banana leaves - 2 large pieces, fresh from the tree or frozen (from Asian markets)
salmon fillet - 1 pound, boneless
fresh jumbo shrimps - 1/4 pound, heads removed, peeled, deveined, tails intact
miso paste (use yellow for this recipe) - 1 cup (from Asian markets)
fresh garlic - 1 teaspoon, minced
fresh ginger - 1 knob, a one-inch piece, peeled, sliced thin
onion - 1 whole, sliced
tomato - 1 large, sliced
lemon juice or calamansi juice (the Filipino lime) - 4 Tablespoons, from the juice of fresh lemons or frozen calamansi concentrate (from Asian markets)
fresh lemon - 1 whole, sliced
sea salt - 1 teaspoon
freshly ground black pepper powder - 1 teaspoon
butcher's twine - about 2 yards (6 feet), for tying the banana leaves around the fish
boiled rice, white or brown - for serving


  • Prepare the Banana Leaves:  Clean the banana leaf sections by wiping them on both sides with a damp paper towel. Pass the leaves over a medium flame on both sides to soften. This should only take a few seconds.
  • Marinate the salmon fillet and fresh shrimps with the lemon juice (or calamansi), salt and pepper for 30 minutes. Then spread out the banana leaves and place the salmon and shrimps in the center.

  • Separately in a small bowl, mix the miso paste with the minced garlic and ginger. Then spread this generously over the entire fish and shrimps which are on the banana leaves. Top with slices of the onions, tomatoes, lemons.

  • Wrap the fish like a large burrito, folding and tucking the sides inwards.  Tie leaves securely with enough butcher’s twine. Make sure there are no gaps or tears in the leaves, because if there are, then the liquids will leak through when grilling. Wrap the banana leaves-encased fish further in a large sheet of aluminum foil. This is useful in case the leaves break up during cooking.

  • Put the bundle on top of a pre-heated high temperature outdoor grill. Cook for about 25 to 30 minutes.

  • Unwrap the banana leaves at the dinner table. Serve the fish warm with a platter of steamed white rice or else heat up cooked rice wrapped in banana leaves for ten minutes on the outdoor grill.

  • Cook's comments: if salmon is not available, use other type of fish fillet preferred. Use the same seasonings for this same amount of fish or seafood and cook according to directions above.

  • Ingredient info: I used yellow miso paste for this recipe. Yellow miso is made from soybeans, fermented with rice and barley. It has a light beige color with a mild, sweet, herbal-like flavor. This type of miso can be used as a condiment for soups, salad dressings, marinades or glazes. They can be packaged in tubes or plastic containers.

Elizabeth Ann Quirino

Elizabeth Ann Quirino

Elizabeth Ann Quirino, based in New Jersey is a journalist and author of the “How to Cook Philippine Desserts: Cakes and Snacks” Cookbook. She is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and blogs about Filipino home cooking on her site

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