I’ve never fully considered the vast utility of the banana leaf outside its more mainstream uses: a runway for potable water, ropes from which to swing through the Ecuadorian jungles, padding for produce carried from farm to market; you know… the everyday aspects of sophisticated living.
But last weekend, as I sifted through the cremini and chanterelle at my friendly neighborhood grocery, I noticed a pile of them there, stacked and folded and ever-so-green against the backdrop of the earth-clod fungi and it dawned on me… I can cook with these. So $0.53/lb and a couple halibut filets later I strode home, bounty affixed firmly to my noggin.
Into a mixing bowl go the filets. Apply a healthy dose of olive oil and slightly more conservatively the S&P. You’ll also need some citrus, so get to squeezing. Then lay out the halibut individually onto whatever remains of the banana leaves not yet fashioned into your weekend footwear. Top with slivered tomatoes, diced jalapeños and grated ginger and wrap the whole thing up like a tamale. Grill them on low heat for about twenty minutes, flipping more than halfway through, and serve over couscous with toasted pine nuts and a little butter. Maybe a little more butter.
Not certain how much flavor my versatile husk provided but the taste was pure and lacked the typical char you get from going directly off grill or that cedar you get from planks. For a few bucks more next time I ought to have enough for that hammock.