I hope you don't mind.....a recipe on a Monday. Here's one that I learned during the cooking class offered by Joy of Tamarind Restaurant in Luang Prabang. Sounds much like, Cambodian Fish Amok, but Mok Pa uses no coconut milk. There's also a recipe for this dish in the legendary cookbook, Traditional Recipes of Laos a translation of the contents of 2 notebooks hand written by Phia Sing, the Royal Chef, who resided in the Royal Palace in Luang Prabang. How this legacy of Royal Lao/Luang Prabang style cooking was saved, by the late Alan Davidson, the editor of the Oxford Companion to Food is, of itself, worth of many a post. Perhaps one day I'll take a stab at it. I did notice that items steamed in Banana Leaf is called "Mawk" in Traditional Recipes of Laos, while items "grilled" in Banana Leaves are called "Mok". Here, in deference to the cooking class I took, I'll call it "Mok".
I apologize in advance; I'm sure if I worked a bit more at it, I could make this more photogenic. The version I made in Luang Prabang was more a bit more attractive. We basically ate what we made in class, everything was cooked on a charcoal brazier, called a Tao-Lo. I was amazed at how good this came out. When the Missus ate a version of this, She told me, "there's something here that tastes so familiar, but I can't place it". It was the dill. Phia Sing's recipes for Mawk doesn't include dill, but Tamarind's recipe does. I did enjoy the nice palate cleansing, refreshing flavor dill added to the dish.
Some other notes; the original recipe uses ground sticky rice powder, I've replaced it with corn starch. I've adjusted some of the other ingredients to my taste. One of the tricks to making banana leaves pliable is to run them over a flame, until they become "shiny". Don't burn, however......
One more key note that was emphasized during the class, "make everything to your taste".....which is what I did, and so should you!
2 Tb Corn Starch
3-4 Shallots chopped
3-4 Cloves Garlic
1-2 Thai Bird Chilies sliced into thirds
3 Kaffir Lime Leaves - the recipe doesn't indicate this, but I sliced the middle "stem" of the leaf off, and sliced in a very fine chiffonade)
1-2 Tb Sea Salt (to taste)
4 Tb Dill finely Chopped
2 Tb Thai Basil chopped (in Laos they call what we refer to as Thai Basil, Lao Basil, and Holy Basil is called Thai Basil - go figure)
2 Scallion, green parts only finely chopped
2-3 Tb Water
2 Tb Fish Sauce
3/4 Lb White Fish Filets Cut into slices...or cubed if you desire
4-8 Banana Leaf pieces, each about 8"x8"
1 - In a mortar combine 1TB salt, garlic, shallots, chilies, kaffir lime leaves, and pound into a paste.
2 - Add Dill, Basil, and Scallions, and incorporate into paste.
3 - Add 2 Tb fish sauce, and 2 Tb water, and mix into paste. Taste and adjust flavors.
4 - Add fish and combine with paste.
5 - Run banana leaves over a flame to make pliable.
6 - Divide up fish into 4 portions.
7 - You can either place 2 banana leaves over each other at right angles, place fish in the middle, and pour on some of the paste. OR if you're like me, and all thumbs, just fold the darn thing up, sealing well.
8 - Seal and secure with a toothpick.
9 - Steam for 20-30 minutes.