Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Saturday countdown: Laulau with banana leaves

Banana leaf wrapper

In Obama's words, “yes you can!” But I am going to dispense with all of the detailed steps because there's a good chance that if you've arrived here via google web, the answer to your search has just been resolved. Anybody who's anybody knows that hawaiian laulau - bundles of meat, fish and lu'au or taro leaves - are wrapped and steamed within ti leaves to achieve the real thing. Unfortunately these particular leaves aren't readily available everywhere in the world, and sometimes you need to make do with what you have. In this case, banana leaves from Thailand, shipped in and sold at a filipino food market in Milan. What can I say? Don't carbon footprint me, these laulau are for a special occasion because I'm doing a little bit of both american and hawaiian-style for our Thanksgiving in Italy.

Pre-video prep

It goes without saying that if you're lucky enough to have banana trees in your yard, select the young leaves that aren't torn or overly rigid. Wash them well and split down the middle, removing the stiff central rib. Cut the whole leaves into sections approximately 13 inches wide and gently heat the undersides over a low flame to soften. The color of the leaves will turn a bright, glossy sheen. When ready to fill, place the banana leaf glossy side down. Here I've used fresh spinach as lu'au leaves are not only impossible to obtain, but I also have an allergic reaction to them. Chunks of pork lightly seasoned with red hawaiian sea salt and a piece of swordfish (typically butterfish or pesce burro if you can find it) goes on top. I've given two examples using just leaf and string, and using leaf with foil. Either way works well but I find that when using foil, packing them for the freezer is less of a mess, especially when you want to give some away as gifts. Cooking time: 3 hours steamed in a covered pot over low simmer. Serve with lomilomi salmon, rice and poi (if get).

Pork & fish laulau

Very cool post on how to wrap laulau in a more authentic way.


Blogger KennyT said...

laulau sounds good, i call my honey laulau sometimes too becoz his last name is lau.......... haha

8:54 PM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Rowena... said...

Kenny - well then...your honey has the perfect last name! ^-^

10:49 PM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger K and S said...

looking good! I'm not a fan of laulau (gasp!) probably because I ate lots growing up. (more for you Rowena!!)

1:09 AM, November 25, 2009  
Blogger RONW said...

you ran out of tin foil or what?

5:30 AM, November 25, 2009  
Blogger Rowena... said...

Kat - you not? Not even da one-poundah at some places like Hilo? Anyway, you know this just isn't going to be da same without da poi *sob*sniff*waaaah*, but at least going get lomi salmon (of which i gotta salt dat salmon myself!)

RONW - why? You need some?!?

9:35 AM, November 25, 2009  
Blogger K and S said...

poi, now that is something I like, too bad you cannot find taro around there...

9:56 AM, November 25, 2009  
Blogger Fabio said...

OMG !!!
it looks soooo ono...

I NEED laulau right now !!!


12:46 PM, November 25, 2009  
Blogger Barbara said...

Hi Ro,

Congrats in finding everything for your Thanksgiving kau kau. Big achievements indeed.

At our house it will be very very simple.

So, Happy Thanksgiving to you & your family. Make it a great one.

4:20 PM, November 25, 2009  
Blogger Rowena... said...

Papio - never mind the laulau. Don't forget to wear your "Late" tshirt and pareau/skirt thingy. You be dancing da hula dude!

Barbara - if I had organized and planned this way in advance, it would have been nice to have you and D over! Happy Tday to you too!

8:21 PM, November 25, 2009  
Blogger OkiHwn said...

Nice! Reminds me of when I was desperate and made seafood lau lau in Oki.

4:08 PM, November 26, 2009  
Blogger Rowena... said...

Nate - I'm getting even more desperate because I need to cook a sweet potato to have puree to make a pie. No Libby's canned pumpkin here, but Tday ain't Tday without an orange-colored pie!

11:12 PM, November 26, 2009  
Blogger Audra Majocha said...

so, i have frozen banana leaves...do you think they are suitable, once defrosted? is the best i can find here in virginia/DC!!!


2:30 AM, October 19, 2011  
Blogger Rowena... said...

Audra - I have never used frozen banana leaves but as long as they haven't deteriorated to the point of falling apart when folded, I don't see why you couldn't use them. The leaves should still be able to impart that unique flavor as well. Hmmm...now you've given me the idea to try frozen leaves for emergency laulaus!

12:54 PM, October 24, 2011  

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