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Allagash and Saffron Steamed Tilapia in Banana Leaf

Recipe by Diana Kuan

Serves 6


  • Allagash White Beer, 3 ounces
  • Tilapia fillets, 2 skinned and minced
  • Coconut cream or thick coconut milk, ½ cup
  • Saffron strands, 4-6 crumbled
  • Salt, ½ teaspoon
  • Pepper, ½ teaspoon
  • Granulated sugar, 3 teaspoons
  • Red chili pepper, 1 thinly sliced
  • Lemongrass stalk, ½ whites only, puréed
  • Gingerroot, 1 teaspoon grated
  • Banana leaves, 6 cut to approximately 8 inches by 6 inches

Equipment needed in preparation: Wok with flat bottom, two bamboo steamers with one lid, and string.


  1. Soak banana leaves in a bowl of water to soften.
  2. Fit one of the large bamboo steamers in a flat-bottom wok. Pour enough water into the wok so that the water level barely touches the bottom of the bamboo steamer. Bring the water to simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. Bring the coconut cream to simmer in small skillet. Add the saffron and gently stir for one to two minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  4. Lightly season the minced tilapia with salt and pepper. Place the pieces in a bowl and mix in the coconut cream, saffron, sugar, red chili, lemongrass, and gingerroot.
  5. Remove the banana leaves from the water and pat dry. Divide the fish mixture evenly between leaves. Gently splash each portion with Allagash White. Fold the leaves around the filling to form a tight rectangular package; tie each package with string.
  6. Place the parcels in the other steamer. Place the cool bamboo steamer on top of the steamer in the wok and cover with the lid. Steam the parcels for approximately ten minutes, until the fish is fully cooked and the flavors of the beer, saffron and coconut are well infused. Serve immediately.

For individual portions, cut open the middle of the leaf and serve with a side of steamed white rice. To serve family style, present parcels in the wooden steamer with string and leaf intact for diners to open themselves.

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Allagash Brewing Company