Opening your own banana leaf parcel at the table to reveal a delicately fragranced fish fillet brings pleasing drama to a meal. If you can’t find banana leaves, use foil instead, but they are worth seeking out in Asian supermarkets for the subtle herbal taste they impart.
In a bowl, toss the fish fillets with lemon juice, salt and pepper and leave to marinate out of the fridge whilst you prepare the bumbu.
Trim the lemongrass to the pale white and lilac part, bruise with the handle of a knife then finely slice. Roughly chop the remaining bumbu ingredients and blend everything to a paste in a food processor or high-speed blender. Adding a little water will help the blades bring everything together. Heat the oil in a small frying pan and cook the bumbu over a medium heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes until the raw garlic taste has gone and the oil separates from the spices.
Add the coconut milk and bumbu to the fish, turning to coat the fillets well.
Cut eight pieces of softened banana leaves, each large enough to wrap a fillet. Lay them out in double thickness. Lay a generous layer of lemon basil leaves on each and sit a fillet on top, making sure you include all the coconutty marinade. Scatter a little chilli over the top followed by two slices of tomato, then bury under another mound of lemon basil. Wrap the parcels well, securing with bamboo skewers or a ribbon of banana leaf. If you have time, leave to marinate in the fridge for up to 4 hours.
Space out the parcels on a baking sheet.
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