How to Make Banana Leaf Boats for Cooking or Serving

  • 01 of 09

    Step 1: Get Yourself Some Banana Leaves

    Banana Leaf Boats step 1
    Thawing Banana Leaves. D.Schmidt

    Banana leaves can be purchased at Asian and Chinese food stores (or online). Look for them in the freezer section, where they are usually sold frozen in plastic packages, as shown, for anywhere from just $1.50 to $3. (Be sure to allow a half-hour for banana leaves to thaw before using.)

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  • 02 of 09

    Step 2: Cut a Rectangular Piece of Banana Leaf

    Banana Leaf Boats step 2
    Cutting out a Rectangle. D.Schmidt

    Using scissors, cut out a rectangle approximately 10 to 12 inches long by 4 to 6 inches wide (this will hold a small to medium sized salmon steak, or a reasonably-sized salad or dessert portion).

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  • 03 of 09

    Step 3: Rinse the Banana Leaf

    step 3
    Rinsing the Banana Leaf. D.Schmidt

    Rinse the rectangular piece of the banana leaf under hot running water. Gently shake off excess water, or pat dry. Heat helps bring out the natural oils and bright green color of the banana leaf.

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  • 04 of 09

    Step 4: Fold One of the Ends

    Step 4
    Folding the End. D.Schmidt

    Gently fold over the end, then lift the sides together. This will make one end of the boat.

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  • 05 of 09

    Step 5: Secure the End

    Step 5
    Securing the End. D.Schmidt

    In the example shown, a stapler is used 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.

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  • 06 of 09

    Step 6: Do the Same with the Other End

    Banana Leaf Boats step 6
    Folding and Securing the other End of the Boat. D.Schmidt

    Now do the same with the other end, gently folding over and lifting both sides together. Again, secure this end of the boat.

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  • 07 of 09

    Step 7: Make Extra Tucks in the Sides

    Banana leaf boats, step 7
    Making an Extra Tuck on Each Side. D.Schmidt

    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.

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  • 08 of 09

    Step 8: Fill Your Banana Leaf Boats

    Banana leaf boats, step 8
    Finished Banana Leaf Boats - ready to set sail!. D.Schmidt

    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 step for a serving suggestion.

    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. Place the boats in a container or on a baking sheet if using them for cooking. If serving guests, try making extra boats and transfer the cooked or prepared item into a fresh boat right before serving.

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  • 09 of 09

    Step 9: Serving Your Banana Leaf Boats

    Salmon in Banana Leaf Boat
    Salmon Steak Baked in a Banana Leaf Boat with Red Curry Sauce - Delicious & Spectacular!. D.Schmidt

    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. If entertaining guests, consider transferring the cooked fish into a fresh boat right before serving.

    More Banana Leaf Recipes