Fish Curry Custard Wrapped in Banana Leaves (Hoh Muk)

Makes 6

Geang Koa Chile Paste

Makes 1 cup
1 teaspoon salt
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced cilantro roots or stems
2 dried Guajillo chilies, softened, minced
7 to 8 fresh red Thai chilies (about 2 tablespoons)
½ teaspoon white peppercorns, roasted, ground
½ teaspoon caraway seeds, roasted, ground
1 teaspoon minced galangal
1 stalk lemongrass, green parts and hard outer layers removed, minced
1 ½ teaspoons minced kaffir lime zest or 1 tablespoon regular lime zest
2 shallots, minced
1 teaspoon fermented shrimp paste or red miso

Pound the salt and garlic together until pureed. Add one or two ingredients and pound to puree before adding the remaining ingredients, one at the time until you have a smooth paste.

If making ahead, transfer to a jar with a tight lid and refrigerate. It will keep for several weeks.

Fish custard

24 approximately 7 by 10-inch fresh banana leaves1 ½ pounds red snapper or sea bass fillets, sliced as thin as possible
½ cup Geang Koa Chile Paste
1tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon thick coconut cream
12 Kaffir lime leaves, sliced thread thin
6 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon Agave syrup
2 tablespoons rice flour
3 to 4 Russian kale, sliced the soft leaves into 3 inch width
6 to 8 Thai basil leaves
3 red Thai chilies, slivered
12 -13 toothpicks

  1. Turn the burner on low. Use a tong to pick up the banana leaf and brush each over the fire to soften. Stack them 2 by 2 fitting the lengths and widths of the leaves and set aside.
  2. Put the fish in a mixing bowl and add the chili paste. Mix well.
  3. Add the coconut oil and ¾ cup coconut cream and mix again to combine.
  4. Add only half the portion of the kaffir lime and mix into the mixture. Beat the egg yolks slightly and then add to the mixture and mix well. Season with salt, fish sauce and agave syrup. Mix well to combine.
  5. Use only 3 egg whites and beat until frothy before adding to the mixture. Mix and combine well.
  6. In another bowl mix the remaining coconut cream with the remaining rice flour and mix well.
  7. Line a set of 2 banana leaves with kale and spoon about 3 tablespoons of fish on top. Spoon about 1 teaspoon or more of the coconut and flour mixture on top. Garnish with some kaffir lime threads, red chilies and Thai basil leaves.
  8. Fold the banana leaves over the filling, gently and secure with a toothpick.
  9. Steamed for 15 to 20 minutes.
  10. Serve hot or room temperature.