My use of the term “binalot” has been limited to the answering of queries pertaining to my whereabouts. For example:
Buddy: Hey Marv, you ever been to Disneyland?
Me: Yeah, I’ve binalot.
College Professor: Hey Marv, you ever been to any of my lectures?
Me: Yes, I’ve binalot of your lectures.
Potential Employer: Hey Marv, you ever been to jail?
Me: Uh, no. I, uh, never bin to jail.
Well, it turns out that the term “binalot” also refers to the Filipino method of preparing foods in various types of wrappers—usually banana leaves, although other wrapper types may also fit in this category. And with “Binalot” being the theme for the current Lasang Pinoy event, I had a couple of ideas to play around with.
The first thing that popped into my mind for this Lasang Pinoy event was Turon. I’ve never made Turon, but I’ve seen my mother (AKA Lightning Lumpia) make it a million times and it seems easy enough to make. She just cuts a saba banana in half lengthwise, rolls the halves in brown sugar, wraps the sugar-coated banana in a lumpia wrapper, and then deep fries this little package of sweetness. The result is a crispy Lumpia filled with a caramelized banana.
Then my mind started wandering a bit and I thought of another banana/caramel dessert: Bananas Foster. Bananas Foster is an American dessert in which banana halves are cooked in a caramel sauce. Rum is then added to this caramel sauce and then lit on fire. Finally, the caramel-coated bananas are served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
So, with the two ideas of Turon and Bananas Foster thrown in with the Binalot theme, I decided to create a Pinoy version of Bananas Foster using saba bananas wrapped in a banana leaf.
Well, it sounded logical to me.
Here’s what transpired:
First, I went to the Asian market and picked up some banana leaves and a few saba bananas. Saba bananas are a more stout and starchy version of normal bananas. Although I didn’t try, I don’t think regular bananas would work in this recipe as they would probably turn to mush. And since banana leaves come packed frozen here in the States, I soaked a couple of the leaves in some water to defrost and rehydrate them. Soaking the leaves also ensures a more pliable wrapper.
After drying off the banana leaves with a paper towel, I placed some brown sugar in the middle of a leaf, cut a saba banana in half lengthwise, and rolled the banana halves in the sugar.
I folded the banana leaf around the sugar and bananas like a burrito, then tied the package together with a strip of banana leaf (you can also use kitchen twine). I placed this banana package onto another banana leaf and threw the whole thing on a hot grill, over indirect heat, to cook for 10 minutes. You could also put the banana package in a baking dish and bake in a 375-degree oven for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, I removed the banana package (if you couldn’t already tell, I like saying “banana package”, it makes me giggle, tee-hee) from the grill and let it cool for another five minutes.
You could also do this whole procedure using foil. Although foil would be easier to work with, the distinctive flavor of the banana leaf would be missing, and without that flavor, you might as well not make this dish at all.
Being careful of hot steam, I cut open my hot banana package (ouch!). All of the brown sugar turned into a syrup that pooled beneath the bananas.
I then spooned some of the syrup over the bananas, and then poured some dark rum over the bananas as well. I turned the lights down low, whispered some sweet somethings in The Wife's ear, and lit that mofo on fire—the bananas, not the wife.
After all the rum burned off, I finally topped the bananas with a big scoop of ice cream. Yes, vanilla ice cream would be good here, but you know what would be better?
Let me hear you say: This Binalot is bananas! B-A-N-A-N-A-S!
Bananas Foster in a Banana Leaf
Yield: One package (1-2 servings)
2 banana leaves, soaked in water for at least 5 minutes and then dried with paper towels.
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 saba banana, cut in half lengthwise
1-2 tablespoons dark rum
The banana leaves should be about the size of a piece of notebook paper. If the banana leaves are too big, trim with a pair of kitchen shears.
Place the brown sugar in the middle of a banana leaf, then roll the banana halves in the brown sugar to coat. Fold the banana leaf around the bananas and sugar to form a packet. Tie the packet shut with an extra strip of banana leaf, or with kitchen twine.
Place the packet on the other banana leaf, and then place on a hot grill over indirect heat. Grill for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, remove the packet from the grill and rest on a plate for 5 minutes. Cut the packet open, and spoon the syrup over the bananas. Pour the rum over the bananas and light the bananas on fire with a lighter or match. Be very careful lighting this on fire, as the rum is very flammable and the banana leaf may be very dry at this point.
After the rum has burned off, top with vanilla ice cream, or Macapuno Ice Cream.