This is one of the traditional ways of cooking in the kampung (village) where fish or prawns are wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked over an open wood fire or burning hot charcoal (like satay/sate). We call it pa’is…so if it is fish, we call it pa’is ikan.
I think there are people who will add all kinds of things to the fish or prawns such as chillies, serai (lemon grass), kunyit (turmeric) and what not but actually, if the fish or prawns are very fresh, there is no necessity to add anything at all, not even salt.
The banana leaf bundles are grilled slowly over the heat…and when ready, you can enjoy the natural taste and sweetness of the fish or prawns enhanced with the delightful flavour of smoked banana leaf…
I was so thrilled to stumble upon these at my regular Malay food stall at Bandong the other day as it is not easy to get hold of them except perhaps, during the Muslim fasting month at the Ramadhan stalls (but more often than not, most of those that I had bought from there previously had been somewhat disappointing). These were selling at only RM3.00 each and there were four fish inside. I could not tell whether they did it the authentic way or whether they had just used an oven or perhaps they just grilled it on a metal plate or frying pan on a gas stove…but regardless, it still tasted heavenly.
If only I could have keli or buris with its very lemak (rich) natural Omega 3 oil oozing out, cooked in this manner, I’m sure it would be simply out of this world….