Friday, May 18, 2012

G is for: Grilled Striped Bass In Banana Leaf {guest post}

You may have noticed the blog is a little light in the recipe department this week. But as I told you Tuesday, my normal blog days (a.k.a. my off days) were spent hanging with my cousin and waiting for the arrival of her new baby. The rest of my off day was spent catching up on sleep. (All totally worth it by the way).

Not to worry, I do have one small recipe I will post before week's end, but with the Giants in town all week, it just won't be the normal frequency on e is for eat.

I had already come to terms with this and then I spotted one of my regular guest post contributors, Jullie Anne, tweet photos of this beautiful grilled bass she cooked for Mother's Day. I practically begged her to share the recipe on the blog and thankfully, she happily obliged. So with that, I turn things over to Jullie Anne. (Thanks again...this looks fabulous!)

Hello everyone! I want to start off by talking about Asian markets because I came up with this recipe during a recent trip with my mom.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been amazed by the Asian market. My mom would bring me on her weekly trips, and it never got old. Shelves are lined with bottles and jars of just about every sauce and condiment you can think of. Produce stands are filled with funky-shaped Southeast Asian vegetables.

And my favorite aisle to get lost in? The snack aisle. The cookies, candies, and tropical fruit juices…there’s always so much to choose from and I love all of it. But it wasn’t until I was an adult that I was finally able to appreciate the available fresh fish. The seafood department is like a whole other market within a market.

There are tiny and humongous fish, skinny or wide, yellow scaled and even blue fish. There are LIVE crabs, lobsters, and clams (not to mention, all of this for relatively CHEAPER prices compared to chain grocery stores!) Also, many fish departments will clean your purchases for you. So, if you’re hesitant to cook a whole fish, don’t worry! They’ll deal with the insides/scales/etc. that way you don’t have to.

Which finally brings me to this Grilled Striped Bass recipe! I was hanging out with my mom during Mother’s Day weekend when we decided to head to the market. On this particular day, the weather was beautiful and the grill was just begging to be used. My mom recommended fish and we just rolled with that. Mom chose striped bass (Hey, it was her day. She was in charge!), but you can use any firm, white fish – such as tilapia, halibut, or red snapper.

Because it’s a pretty mild fish, you can flavor striped bass with almost anything. Mom and I went with some classic flavors: garlic, ginger, scallions, citrus, and Thai basil. The one wild card is the Hawaiian sea salt. If you have regular sea salt on hand, that works just fine. Alaea Sea Salt is made using red Hawaiian clay, giving the salt a mellow earthy flavor. It’s most commonly used for the luau-favorite Kalua Pig, so it goes great with meats you’re going to roast or grill. Also, if you’re not familiar with Thai basil, it’s a little sweeter than regular basil and has licorice/anise undertones.

We also picked up some banana leaves. Why banana leaves? Mom says, “The leaf keeps the fish together, so the skin won’t stick to the grill. And it comes out moist, gives it a little extra flavor.” The leaves can actually be found in the frozen food section, and just one package has PLENTY of leaves. (*A side note if you’re wondering if banana leaves are really worth it…one package only costs $1.50. It’s not a crazy-expensive, specialty food item at all!)

So, putting everything together, here’s what we came up with... Score both sides of the fish so that all of the seasonings can really seep in. Stuff the striped bass with a slice of lime and some of the garlic, ginger, scallions, and chopped Thai basil. Instead of using twine to tie up the fish, I tore off strips of banana leaf. Voila! All natural “twine” to keep your fish together. :) Season both sides of the fish with the Hawaiian sea salt and black pepper.

Now, spread out your segment of banana leaf. Place more of the stuffing ingredients in an even layer in the center. Put the whole striped bass on top of this “flavor pile”, then top the fish with another “flavor pile”. For additional brightness and moisture, squeeze the juice from the unsliced portions of citrus you used over the entire fish. To wrap, fold the bottom third of the banana leaf over the fish and roll everything upwards until the striped bass is completely encased. Use more banana leaf “twine” to tie up the ends and keep your nice & neat package together.

Place the striped bass on a grill over medium-high heat, and close/ cover the grill for 9 minutes (Don’t open it until you’re ready to flip! The banana leaf will char, but that’s ok. You want that smoky flavor, this is GRILLING afterall!) Flip the whole thing, cover again, and cook for another 10 minutes.

To serve, place the whole thing on a large serving platter and just use kitchen shears to cut down the middle of the banana leaf wrapping. I garnished with lemon and scallions, and served a veggie stir fry and some steamed rice on the side. You could also serve this with a tropical fruit salsa, steamed vegetables, or even couscous as an alternative to the rice.

I already loved grilling fish, but this addition of banana leaf helps me avoid a sticky mess on the grill and keeps the fish so tender. Try it for your next backyard BBQ or summertime gathering.e4 :) And one last thing, I definitely hope you venture out to the nearest Asian market and do some exploring…maybe get lost in the snack aisle? I recommend the Hello Panda cookies… ;)

Grilled Striped Bass in Banana Leaf

by Jullie Anne Caparas
Keywords: grill entree gluten-free low-carb low-fat

  • 1 whole fish (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds), cleaned & scaled
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled & sliced
  • 2 scallion stalks, sliced diagonally
  • 1/2 cup Thai basil chiffonade (about 8-10 leaves)
  • 3 slices of lime (juice unsliced portion of the lime, reserve)
  • 3 slices of lemon (juice unsliced portion of the lemon, reserve)
  • 1.5 teaspoons Hawaiian sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil, for brushing
  • banana leaf, cut to 18 inches long
  1. Start by scoring both sides of the fish. Stuff the cleaned belly of the fish with 1 lime slice, 1 lemon slice, and 1/3 of each of the remaining stuffing ingredients. Brush both sides of the fish with olive oil, and season both sides with the Hawaiian sea salt and black pepper. Use twine or strips of banana leaf to secure the open belly.
  2. Spread out your segment of banana leaf lengthwise, so that the ridges of the leaf are horizontal. Place another 1/3 of the stuffing ingredients in an even layer in the center of the leaf. Place the whole fish on top of this mixture, and then top the fish with an even layer of the last 1/3 of stuffing ingredients. Pour the reserved lemon and lime juices over everything.
  3. Fold the bottom half of the banana leaf over the fish, and roll upwards until the entire leaf is wrapped around the fish. Tie twine or strips of banana leaf around this “package” to keep everything together.
  4. Place the banana leaf-wrapped fish on a hot grill (medium-high flame), and cover/close grill lid. Cook on this side for 8-10 minutes (depending on the size of the fish), flip, and cover/cook for another 8-10 minutes.
  5. To serve, use kitchen shears to cut down the middle of the wrapping. Serve with lemon wedges, veggies, and/or rice. Enjoy!
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  1. awesome. Looks wonderful.

  2. I'm about to cook whole fish wrapped with banana leaves myself, this post is an informative tip on how to do that. Did you warm up the leaves over the stove first before using? I've heard that you're supposed to do this or the leaves will be too stiff and break apart when you try to roll.


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