Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Daring Cooks' July 2012 Challenge: Cooking "En Papillote"

Our July 2012 Daring Cooks' host was Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie! Sarah challenges us to learn a new cooking technique called "Cooking En Papillote" which is French and translates to cooking in parchment.

According to Sarah "...this cooking method in parchment is also called "al cartoccio" in Italian, it is a method of cooking in which the food is put into a folded pouch or parcel and then baked. The parcel is typically made from folded parchment paper, but other materials such as paper bag or aluminum foil may be used."

Yay, I love challenges where they give us the freedom of choosing what ingredients and materials...and for this French/Italian method of cooking I decided to go all out Asian or more specifically Filipino. Being a tropical country, we have an abundance of bananas and of course banana leaves so we use these leaves (also coconut leaves) for wrapping food and then cooking them either in grills or steamers. For this challenge I chose to make "Pinais na Bangus" which is milkfish stuffed with vegetables and wrapped in banana leaves and then grilled...doesn't that sound delicious?

The basic ingredients are milkfish, cleaned, scaled and butterflied (as shown above) in which I squeezed lemon juice and seasoned with salt and freshly cracked pepper. I cut lemongrass and finely minced ginger root, these went first and then the chopped tomatoes (2 medium sized) and minced white onion (1 piece).
Doesn't that look awesome? The vegetables are so colorful! I closed (as best as I could) the fish and then wrapped the clean banana leaves and put it on a stovetop grill, this is even better on a charcoal grill.

After 15 minutes on one side, turn the fish so that the other side gets cooked too. I added an extra 5 minutes each, so that was a total of 40 minutes cooking time.

And voila! This is so awesome when you open it, because the banana leaves impart flavor and aroma on the freshly cooked fish. We usually eat this dish with a sauce made of patis (fish sauce), calamansi and crushed siling labuyo (bird's eye chili) and hot rice....Yum...excuse me...but it's lunchtime here!
Thank you Sarah for this awesome challenge, it was really fun and delicious! Oh and dear readers please don't forget to check out the other Daring Cooks' versions of this delicious and healthy method of cooking!