BBQ Fragrant Spicy Thai Fish Parcels

I may not have been born an Aussie but having lived here for more than a total of 17 years and having chalked up my fair share of outdoor grilling and mozzie swatting(something rather foreign to clean-cut city dwellers who hail from modern Singapore who consider anywhere outside of air-conditioned zones…hell)—I reckon I’ve earned my southern stars,eh. What. I probably eat more Vegemite than my own Aussie children (actually my rugrats prefer Nutella—those rascals have no idea)who’ll be the generation who spend so much time on their smart phones that they’ll grow up thinking that “She’ll be right mate” is some old Aussie proverb.

the aromas are incredible even before you start the grill outofman.com
the aromas are incredible even before you start the grill
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Today is Australia Day (OK I know—you’re supposed to say ‘Happy Straya Day’…), a day as good as any to share a good old barbecue recipe of BBQ Fragrant Spicy Thai Fish Parcels (Aromatic Spices) that’s a marriage of my Asian heritage with our much loved Aussie lifestyle—life lived dangerously in the outdoors, cooking outdoors and enjoying of course, our great (Australian) outdoors! Besides, what’s more Aussie than our beautiful seafood produce caught off our clear blue waters aye?

Anyhow, I was just trying to make a point that I know my way around those meat pies, kangaroos and Holdens with the exception of football rules..if you still have trouble believing me—I wrote a motoring article on these icons. No kidding, you’ll forget I was ever Asian. For every migrant who won’t assimilate, there’s hope of one who does their best to learn to fit in and proudly call Australia home.

Our BBQ staple: grilled corn on the cob outofman.com
Our BBQ staple: grilled corn on the cob
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It's a Bar-B!  outofman.com
It’s a Bar-B!
outofman.com

Today is Australia Day (OK I know—you’re supposed to say ‘Happy Straya Day’…), a day as good as any to share a good old barbecue recipe of BBQ Fragrant Spicy Thai Fish Parcels (Aromatic Spices) that’s a marriage of my Asian heritage with our much loved Aussie lifestyle—life lived dangerously in the outdoors, cooking outdoors and enjoying of course, our great (Australian) outdoors! Besides, what’s more Aussie than our beautiful seafood produce caught off our clear blue waters aye?

You’ll find that it’s easy to prepare and you’ll keep going back to this hardy trusty recipe whenever you’re throwing a fish on the Bar-B : ) It’s inspired by ‘My Grill’ (Outdoor Cooking Australian Style)by one of our own favourite Aussie chefs, Pete Evans.

Oh you Beaut... Aussie Red Snapper fillets outofman.com
Oh you Beaut…
Aussie Red Snapper fillets
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BBQ chicken satay  outofman.com
BBQ chicken satay
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We had our fish parcels with some incredible Chicken Satay & grilled chicken wings…just what we do in Singapore a lot.

My hint is that the easiest way to process the ‘rempah’ i.e. spice paste would be in a food processor, but once you start using one, you’ll agree that nothing smells quite as heavenly as pounding up some spices in your mortar and pestle—just the raw buk-buk-buk-buk pounding and grinding sounds of sculptured stone hitting against another conjures up those sweet childhood memories of me as a kid eagerly watching my grandmother or mum squatting on the floor in the kitchen right in the middle of building up a good rustic hearty rempah of Asian spices.

I never dreamed I’d one day be doing the same in my own kitchen (in sunny Brisbane) with my kiddies watching and it’s proof that some cooking traditions are worth hanging on to, like how we ought to appreciate the great culture of the Aussie backyard Bar-B and sharing food and activities outdoors with mates and loved ones.

Give me a few more decades. I’ll try to get my head around backyard cricket, I promise.
Happy Straya Day.

Bar-B grilled fish parcels outofman.com
Bar-B grilled fish parcels
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BBQ Fragrant Spicy Thai Fish Parcels (Aromatic Spices)

Use:
Any white flesh fish fillets or whole fish, skins on and cleaned
Banana leaves (I used 2 pieces, soaked in water)
A bunch of toothpicks (soaked in water overnight or for at least an hour or more)

BBQ Fish Rempah (Spice Paste):
1” knob of ginger, grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 red shallots, finely minced
2 large red chillies (seeds removed, minced)
1 bunch coriander herbs (stalk and leaves finely chopped)
1 stalk lemongrass (white portion only, chopped)
1 teaspoon ready-roasted belachan*
1 TB tamarind paste
1 TB castor sugar
2 tsp Thai fish sauce
200 ml coconut cream (about 1/2 a can)
lime wedges (to serve)

Directions:
First, soak the banana leaves in a basin of water to soften it so that it makes of easier handling and wrapping. Then clean the whole fish and pat it dry. For more even cooking and for lavour to pentrate, score the fish at intervals by making diagonal slits along intervals of the whole length of the fish across its skin. If using fillets, it’s best to leave the skins on if possible for best results. However skinless fillets are fine for this recipe but the skin helps to preserve moisture and gives it added flavour with the seasoning.

Process the rempah or spice paste with the above ingredients (leaving out the lime wedges) into a fine paste the texture of mustard, taking care to add the coconut cream gradually. Rub the spice paste on the fish or fillets.

Take a banana leaf and place fish or a piece of fillet in the middle of it. Add more marinade on the top of the fish i needed. Ensure both sides of the flesh are coated with the paste. Then give it a light squeeze of lime—the juice will moisten and flavour the fish.

Carefully wrap the leaf over the fish from the bottom up, then the left and right sides, finishing with the top flap down in the middle. Fasten with toothpicks.

Heat up your outdoor barbecue grill. Place the banana leaf fish parcels on the grill, cover it and grill on medium heat for 8 to 15 minutes depending on the parcel size. The smaller it is, the sooner they take it to cook. Turn the parcels over to cook the reverse side mid-way through the cooking time.

To serve, unwrap each parcel and garnish further with a sprinkle of chopped coriander, chillies and a squeeze of lime to serve. Great with rice or a salad!
If you can’t get hold of banana leaves, substitute it with grease-proof parchment (baking paper as we say in Oz) paper as the first layer of wrap contacting the fish, followed by another layer of aluminium foil on the outside.

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