Banana leaves impart a slightly sweet and fruity green banana flavor to the foods cooked inside them. Fresh banana leaves offer a more concentrated flavor but frozen banana leaves, sold in Asian, Mexican, and Latino markets, also work well.
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup dry white wine
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 shallots, chopped
2 bay leaves
10 black peppercorns
1 pound unsalted butter, softened
Zest of 3 lemons
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1(16-ounce) package banana leaves
3 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
6 sprigs thyme
1. To make the saffron butter, combine the saffron, wine, garlic, shallots, bay leaves, and peppercorns in a nonreactive saucepan. Over medium heat, reduce the volume to 1/4 cup. Discard the peppercorns and bay leaves.
2. Place the softened butter in a food processor. Add the saffron reduction, lemon zest, and lemon juice. purée until the butter is smooth and takes on a bright yellow color. Place the saffron butter in a plastic container or roll up in parchment paper and set aside.
3. Prepare a medium fire in the grill with the coals all piled on one side of the grill or by lighting only one side of a gas grill.
4. Using scissors, cut each banana leaf to form a rectangle measuring 6 inches by 12 inches. Lay out the leaves and divide the mussels among them. Place a tablespoon of saffron butter in the center of each leaf with 1 or 2 sprigs of thyme. Fold up the sides and ends of each leaf to form a neat package. Wrap each package in aluminum foil.
5. Place the packages on the hot grate on the side of the grill opposite the heat source. Cover the grill and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the mussel shells open.
6. Transfer the packages to a plate, slit open the packages, and serve.
Latin Flavors on the Grill
With Andrew DiCataldo
Ten Speed Press, 2000
Color photos throughout
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created December 2000
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