Banana leaves can be purchased at Asian and Chinese food stores. Look for them in the freezer section, where they are usually sold frozen in plastic packages.
Cut a Rectangular Piece of Banana Leaf
Using scissors, cut out a rectangle approximately 25-30cm long by 10-15cm wide (this will hold a small to medium sized salmon steak, or a reasonably-sized salad or dessert portion).
Rinse the Banana Leaf
Rinse the rectangular piece of banana leaf under hot running water. Gently shake off excess water, or pat dry. (Note that heat helps bring out the natural oils and bright green colour of banana leaf)
Fold One of the Ends
Gently fold over the end, then lift the sides together. This will make one end of the boat.
Secure the End
Use a stapler 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.
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.
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.
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 frame for a serving suggestion.
Tips :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. The best thing to do is accept the leaking as part of the deal (always placing the boats within a container or on a baking sheet if using them for cooking). If serving guests, make extra boats and transfer the cooked or prepared item into a fresh boat right before serving.
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 (see recipe link below). If entertaining guests, consider transferring the cooked fish into a fresh boat right before serving. For this salmon recipe, see: Baked Salmon in Thai Red Curry Sauce.