The environmental friendly and versatile banana leaf, can be found being used at multiple places in the Thai cuisine, right from cooking fish to wrapping sticky white rice for take-away.
When you walk through the streets of Pattaya or Bangkok and the aroma of Thai food grips you, you know you’ve entered food paradise. In Thailand, cafés lined across streets serving authentic Thai food and food stalls that are busy cooking on the road side, have one thing in common - they all use banana leaf abundantly right from cooking the food to wrapping delectable treats of the Thai cuisine. Banana leaf can even be found in Thai supermarkets as the leaf has multi-purpose benefits when used to cook food.
This environmental friendly and versatile banana leaf can be found being used at multiple places right from cooking fish to wrapping sticky white rice for take-away. There are containers that are made creatively using sticks, tooth picks and banana leaves. These containers are even used to pack thick sauces of Thai dishes. It’s natural to wonder why this material has become so popular and integral to the Thai people over time. What is the real significance of using banana leaves in Thai cuisine?
1) Banana leaves ensure the meat doesn’t get burnt off
A lot of Thai delicacies need to be cooked on a high flame but are tender on touch to fire. They are thus wrapped in the banana leaf which acts as an exterior layer, protecting the food (mostly fish) from getting burnt on an open flame. The banana leaves also prevent the food to stick on the grill, thereby keeping tender meet intact. Banana leaves are often used to wrap ingredients before they are steamed or cook, such as fish, sticky rice, fruits and even banana leaf wrapped desserts. Savoury and sweet dishes steamed in banana leaves include Khao Dome (Coconut Sticky Rice) and Aeb, a Northern Thai-style of cooking fish meat in which the food is wrapped in banana leaves and roasted on a charcoal fire. Even if the banana leaf gets burnt during the process of cooking, the smoky flavour gets juiced in to the meat wrapped within, without there being a problem of char.