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A little less than a happy high
The power of tasty
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cris From: cris Date: July 20th, 2005 02:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I suspect that the Smokey Joe Jr's lid is a little too wee to accomplish it, but the latest thing I've been enamored with is beer can chicken.

Open a can of beer, drink a quarter of it, stand it up right and let a roaster sit on it, fitting the can into most of the chest cavity. Stand upright over indirect heat in a covered grill for 90 minutes. Turn halfway through for even browning. The moisture from the beer will partially steam the meat, keep it juicy and render some of the fat on the skin and give it some excellent crispiness. Vary with cans of lemonade or cider as preference dictates.

Also it's not quite as suitable for tuna, since you want the fast, high sear, but grilling fish en papilotte by wrapping it in banana leaves is a totally great way to do white-flesh fillets like snapper or cod since it relieves the worry of having them stick or fall apart. Banana leaves freeze well, too, so you can buy a pack, throw it in the freezer and use it all summer long.
starflow From: starflow Date: July 20th, 2005 02:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
but do they have any lingering banana flavor or smell?
komos From: komos Date: July 20th, 2005 02:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fear the banana. FEAR IT! ^_^
starflow From: starflow Date: July 20th, 2005 02:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
No need to tell me twice!!! Nasty things that they are. Ew.
komos From: komos Date: July 20th, 2005 07:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Do you also fear the plantain? Or the papaya?
cris From: cris Date: July 20th, 2005 03:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
there is a smell, but it's not banana like at all. more floral, like you braised your fish in rosewater (my girlfriend hates bananas, but loves banana-leaf wrapped fish)
starflow From: starflow Date: July 20th, 2005 03:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Really?! This is great to know. I'm going to try it!
komos From: komos Date: July 20th, 2005 02:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
The other Pete's been talking about wanting to try the beer-can trick, but you're right. To pull it off in the wee grill, we'd have to fashion a larger cover out of foil or some such.

Where can you get banana leaves in these parts?
cris From: cris Date: July 20th, 2005 03:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I always get mine @ the 88, but other Chinese grocers should have them. In your neck of the woods ... Reliable probably would not since they're North Asian. The Tropical market in Inman, across from Christina's on Cambridge St. should stock them. I vaguely recall being able to buy banana leaves and cassava from them a few years ago, when I was living across the street and jonesing for some old school bibingka (filipino coconut/cassava pudding)

Anyway, the money shot with banana leaves is when the heat from the grill both steams the fish and releases the aroma from the leaves, which imparts an awesome floral scent to your dish -- which is why it's worth hunting down. Works well if you add some chopped tomatoes, lemongrass and/or ginger to the package before you throw it on.

The only catch is that since it's wrapped, you can't check for doneness. Err on the side of overcooked (since wrapping the fish traps its liquid and keeps it from drying out) but I always cheat and make one extra package, which I can unwrap about eight or ten minutes into the process to peek in and see how well it's going. You lose a bit of flavor from opening it up ahead of serving, but getting the rest of them right is worth it, imho.
komos From: komos Date: July 20th, 2005 07:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've had catfish in banana leaves at Elephant Walk, as well as the various sticky rice creations from places in Chinatown (I think they're banana leaves, anyway.) I just always thought of them as, well, restaurant food. Yeah, it's weird, but it wasn't too long ago that beer and cheese weren't made by elves.

I'll have to keep an eye open. Thanks.
cris From: cris Date: July 20th, 2005 08:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
oh yeah, that reminds me. The other fun bit to do with banana leaves is to make suman -- which are basically rolls of sticky rice steamed in banana leaves. I imagine that some inventive Spanish colonial officer reposted to Manila from Acapulco was trying to reinvent tamales with what he had on hand.

Cook 2 cups of rice as normal, except replace the water with a can of coconut milk. Once rice has absorbed the liquid, spoon a few tablespoons of the rice on to a banana leaf. Roll into a cigar shape, and twist shut. Add them to a pot in a single layer, then pour in another cup of coconut milk. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 30 minutes. Then unwrap and enjoy as dessert. As you can see, it's about 90 minutes of total time, but most of that is unattended. You can vary the recipe by adding spices or fillings (mostly diced fruit) before rolling it up and boiling. Some folks tend to pan fry the suman afterwards, but that's a particular taste and I usually only reserve it as a technique for leftovers.
21 comments or Leave a comment