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Old 06-29-2011, 06:17 AM
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Cooking with Banana Leaves


OK, as promised in the Ae Ae thread: here's a how-to for wrapping fish in banana leaves. Last night's dinner used Tilapia fillets because the fishmonger didn't have anything whole that looked tasty. The leaves in this example are from a Red Iholene banana plant, which has a nice sort of dark-coppery sheen on the undersides of its leaves, and which needed a leaf removed yesterday. Fish cooked this way poaches in its own juices and ends up pleasantly firm (rather than mushy).

1. Select the leaves and remove from the midrib (if you've got fresh leaves. Lay them upside-down. (Photo shows the difference between upper and lower leaf surfaces).


2. Lay the fish in the center of the leaf. Make sure you leave enough space on all sides to wrap inwards at least 3/4 of the way over the fish.


3. Spices! In this example, I'm using Yellow Seasoning (a blend of mustard, thyme, oregano, nutmeg, and turmeric), Hungarian Paprika, fresh cracked black pepper, and various garden herbs, along with striped lemon and my golden plum sauce from the January harvest.




4. Wrap it up. Begin by bringing the top and bottom (the long edges) together over the fish, then fold the ends up and secure with toothpicks. This takes a bit of practice, but is basically quite simple once you get the hang of it - it's like folding an envelope.


5. Bake at 350 F (180 C) for 30 minutes.
Before:


After:


6. Open carefully - the leaves will be a bit crispy but still flexible.


7. Plate up and enjoy!
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Old 06-29-2011, 09:03 AM
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Oh yum!!!! That does look easy! .. I'm wondering are all banana leaves safe to cook in? .. would this work with Canna Leaves too?

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Old 06-29-2011, 09:43 AM
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Yum, If I ever get the chance to try growing a banana, I would love to try this, with my own spices and minus the lemon which sadly I'm allergic to.
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Old 06-29-2011, 10:16 AM
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Looks so yummy.
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Old 06-29-2011, 11:50 AM
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lorax that is awesome, you always have such interesting and I imagine very tasty things you cook. When my new banana gets big enough to take a leaf now and then I will try this.
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Old 06-29-2011, 02:19 PM
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Xeo: Banana, Ginger, Heliconia, Canna, Alpinia, and pretty much everything else from the Ginger family have leaves that are both safe and good for cooking in. The only thing I'd be wary of is pesticides, and if you're using your own homegrown leaves that's no issue at all. Always wash the leaves first in warm water - that will take off anything scary and also make them a bit more flexible for the wrapping step.

There's little difference between cultivars other than leaf thickness and colour; I've found that I prefer Red Iholene and Wine Plantain banana leaves for cooking simply because they're thick enough to take the heat I put them through. Canna leaves, being tougher and a bit smaller than bananas, are excellent for steamed breads, rice, and dishes done on the grill. Ginger and Alpinia leaves will impart a spicy flavour to whatever's being cooked.
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Old 06-29-2011, 02:21 PM
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oh, that looks wonderful! not mushy at all, and with all the stuff added, the fish doesn't lay there just white (like a dead and skinned mouse )
I'll give that a try
is that a fennel or a dill blossom?
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Old 06-29-2011, 03:37 PM
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My mom's side dig holes in the ground filled with bannana and coconut leaves put the pig in there cover it with more leaves light it and let it slowly roast/smoke. Tastes soooooooooo good!"Boriquen cooking"
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Old 06-30-2011, 03:13 AM
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Sooooo yummy... wish I had such leaves around ... and fish.... and the spices.... I guess I can't try this recipe!
LOL
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Old 06-30-2011, 06:10 AM
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Don't feel bad Calin, me either. I'm not much into cooking but I am an eater.
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Old 06-30-2011, 09:03 AM
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You answered my next question as to whether or not it adds to the flavor. I'm definitely going to give this a try with some of my curcuma ginger leaves!
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Old 07-01-2011, 01:32 AM
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Well, I may find some CANNA leaves around. People do grow these.
I'll get a bunch and give them to my mom and just say... wrap some fish in it!
I can only imagine her face...
I do have a ginger that I plant in the garden each year... but it's to precious to just start tearing off its leaves!
so I guess I'll stick to cabbage/peppers when I want to stuff something.
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Old 07-01-2011, 12:52 PM
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GT - that's a dill flower head. I wouldn't use fennel on fish unless the fish was quite strong-flavoured and able to take the hit.
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