Wrap Roasted Meats In Banana Leaves For Unbeatably Juicy Results

Banana plants are among the unsung heroes of the tropics. Not only is its fruit delicious but the stems can also be eaten and are full of fiber. If you find yourself in possession of a few banana leaves, know that while they might not be edible, they are an indispensable part of any kitchen, particularly when grilling or barbecuing is concerned. Banana leaves are used across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, as well as in Central and South America as a wrapper for cooking meats and seafood. 

This type of method has been used for thousands of years in India and the Philippines because the plant's waterproof and flexible texture make it the perfect cooking tool. These big, generously sized fronds come in handy because, like aluminum foil, butcher paper, or parchment paper, banana leaves protect their contents from drying out. But these organic wrappers do more than provide an extra layer so meat and seafood are protected from extreme heat or an open flame. 

These leaves have an edible, waxy exterior that melts when it is exposed to heat, adding an extra flavor boost to whatever ingredient might be hiding beneath its folds. Banana leaves are also said to have nutrients like flavonoids and polyphenols that permeate the food it is cooking, which in turn could add to its nutritional value. It makes sense then, that banana leaves are used to bake, roast, and steam.

Cooking with banana leaves

Cooking with banana leaves is not as challenging as it might seem. You just need to remember that they can be used in the same way aluminum foil, butcher paper, or parchment paper is used to wrap food or line the bottom of a baking pan or cooker. You don't have to limit yourself to using the leaves to wrap meats and seafood either because they can be used to cook just about anything. 

Filipino chefs use banana leaves for making a variety of sweets, from rice cakes known as bibingka to sticky rice rolls known as suman or budbud. Because they are porous, Indians use banana leaves for steaming rice cakes known as damni dhokla, which is made with rice and dal. Their ability to withstand heat also makes them a great wrapper for Mexican-style barbacoa or roasted fish fillets, as well as the perfect vessel for curries and vegetables. So the next time you're grilling any of these items, make sure to grab some banana leaves and know that you'll be getting unbeatable juicy and flavorful results.