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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 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