Chicken and herbs wrapped in banana leaf

Chicken and herbs wrapped in banana leaf

Luke Nguyen's Greater Mekong
Stuart Scott

Originally from Thailand and Laos, the Dai ethnic minority settled along the banks of the Mekong in Xishuangbanna. Walking through their village I noticed shiny golden temples, monks in orange robes and tall wooden stilt homes, just like in Thailand. So it was no surprise the local food had a strong Thai influence. If you can’t find fresh acacia herb, you can buy it frozen at your local Thai market. Don’t be put oš by its pungent smell: once cooked, it is aromatic, and adds so much depth. This dish is perfect when you’re feeling a little under the weather, as the mixed fresh herbs have great medicinal qualities.


Quantity Ingredient
300g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, minced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 fresh or frozen acacia herb stems, roughly chopped
10 thai basil leaves
1 lemongrass stem, finely chopped, white part only
2 spring onions, sliced
3 small whole red chillies
3 small whole green chillies
5 fresh betel leaves, finely sliced
5 saw-tooth coriander leaves, sliced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
pinch cornflour
2 banana leaves, each about 60 cm long, central rib removed
sticky rice, to serve


  1. Combine all the ingredients, except the banana leaves and sticky rice, in a large mixing bowl. Add a generous pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well, then allow the flavours to infuse for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a barbecue chargrill or chargrill pan to medium–high. Place the banana leaves on the chargrill for a minute on each side, to soften them and make them easier to work with.
  3. Now place one leaf, shiny side down, vertically on your work surface. Place the other leaf, shiny side down, horizontally across the middle of the first leaf to form a cross.
  4. Now place the chicken mixture in the middle of the leaves. Flatten the filling out to form a 20 cm square. Fold the leaves up, one side at a time, over the filling, to form one big secure parcel.
  5. Place the parcel on the chargrill, seam side down. Cook for 15 minutes on each side.
  6. Cut the leaves open and serve the mixture with sticky rice.
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