Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tilapia wrapped in Banana Leaves

This is inspired by the grilled tilapia we often had at Rekados. (Although, not the last time we went, as it wasn't on the menu anymore.)

I don't know what kind of tilapia they use, but in our case, we bought some "pink/white tilapia". But first, making the "relish" or salsa.

Somebody returned from the Philippines and gave us some pickled mangoes.

I drained them (keeping some of the liquid) and diced them. Also diced were tomatoes, red onions and cucumbers. I added a touch of salt and the whole lot drained away in a colander for a little while.

I added calamansi juice (that's the deep yellow liquid in the background; see below), soy sauce, some of the pickled mango liquid and I think a touch of vinegar.

(Looking at the picture in the wikipedia entry, I must say that I've never seen those orange-colored calamansi before. The ones we see have dark green skins.)

We can leave that for now and tackle the fish. I took some banana leaves out of the package and thawed them.

I have since seen someone heat up banana leaves on top of the stove (over the flame) to soften them before using them to wrap items. That would've saved me the trouble of struggling with the leaves. (They weren't that bad to work with, but they just have this annoying tendency to tear.)

In each banana leaf parcel lay the fish with lemon and ginger slices in the cavity and some pickled mango salsa. Onto the grill they went. We had 2 fishy parcels.

I left the lid to the barbeque closed and went back inside. It was raining pretty hard! (They were grilled the same time as our chicken adobo.)

The parcels post-grill.

More pickled mango salsa went on top of the fish.

All in all, this was OK. I think I would've preferred the fish to have more of the grill flavor. As it was, it was more steamed than anything else. The grilled tilapia at Rekado's actually only had a tube top's worth of banana leaf wrapping (instead of a mummy wrap's worth). I don't think we could've pulled that off, though, since there would've probably been a sticking-to-the-grill problem.

(I believe there is a photo of the banana-leaf-tube-topped tilapia on the Rekados website. It's one of the images in the slideshow on the main page of the site.)

Also, I have issues with the fish! It was so weird! Cutting into the flesh, one hit the bones right away! Perhaps it was just a skinny fish? Or maybe this "pink/white" tilapia is different from the other tilapias I've had? That was pretty much the biggest hindrance to my enjoyment of the dish.

The pickled mango salsa was a keeper, though. Saving grace. I think next time, I may add just a teensy amount of bagoong (shrimp paste) in there, just like in Rekados' "pinoy ensalada". ;D

(Of course, if I had green mangoes instead of the pickled variety, I would use that. Actually, if I had green mangoes and bagoong, I wouldn't even go through the pretense of preparing a dish of any sort. Green mango + bagoong is all a girl needs.)

[eatingclub] vancouver Filipino food
Mama's Ampalaya (Bitter Melon)
Faux Kamote-Que
Philippine-Style Chicken "BBQ"
Fried Hasa Hasa (Mackerel)
"Savory" Chicken Wings
Sinamak (Chile-infused Vinegar)
Pan-roasted Halibut w/ Fava Beans, Potato-Onion Cakes & Bagoong Butter Sauce
Bulalo & Bangus: an even simpler Filipino meal
Baked Tahong (Mussels)
Adobo Kangkong (Adobo Water Spinach)
Oyster Torta (Oyster Omelette)
Chicken Tinola (Chicken Soup w/ Green Papaya & Pepper Leaves)
(Chinese) Roast Pork Belly / Lechon
Tilapia wrapped in Banana Leaves
Pork Belly, Two Ways
Chicken Adobo
Salabat (Ginger Tea)
Lechon Manok (Philippine Roast Chicken) & Lechon Sauce
"Chinese Adobo" Clams and Oysters
Bistek (Citrus Beef with Caramelized Onions)
Beef Kaldereta (Beef Stew with Bell Peppers)
Atsara (Green Papaya Pickle)
Sardinas na Bangus (Milkfish in the style of Sardines) and Pressure Cooker Fear


  1. Where can I buy Banana leaves? I live near Lonsdale in North Van ...

  2. Anon:
    I'm not sure if there is a T&T Supermarket in North Van. If there isn't, then there's one downtown (near Tinseltown). Or perhaps try a Chinese/Asian supermarket in North Van; or even a Filipino grocery store, if there's one.

    The banana leaves usually come frozen, so check the freezer section. Good luck!


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