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Old 09-14-2005, 01:04 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Cooking meat wrapped in banana leaves...

Ok, this is kind of a weird question and I didn't know if it should go in the ethnic foods or slow cooker forum but I thought it would reach a lot of people here.

I think most people have seen foods cooked wrapped in leaves or at least in foil and parchment paper. Maybe less people know about cooking foods in an underground oven. I usually see it refered to by its Hawaiian name, imu, where rocks are heated up in a pit fire, banana leaves thrown on, food thrown on, more banana leaves, and then dirt/sand. Then everything is cooked slowly throughout the day.

So I was thinking I could imitate this mode of cooking by wrapping food/meat in leaves or foil and then cook it in the slow cooker.

What do you think? Should I try it? Has anyone else done this?

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Old 09-14-2005, 01:57 PM   #2
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You could do it in your oven at a low temperature.

There has to be moisture in the 'package' to ensure proper steaming of the contents.
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Old 09-14-2005, 02:07 PM   #3
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Yes, as Andy points out, the banana leaves provide moisture and also flavor.

They may be available where you live.

I don't think foil in a crockpot would capture much of the essence of cooking with banana leaves, IMO.
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Old 09-14-2005, 02:30 PM   #4
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I've steamed in banana leaves many times with great results,
gives it a smoky taste.I know in the Philippines it quite common to use banana leaves to cook,but is used as a barrier
to prevent burning that kind of thing.
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Old 09-14-2005, 05:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foodaholic
I've steamed in banana leaves many times with great results,
gives it a smoky taste.I know in the Philippines it quite common to use banana leaves to cook,but is used as a barrier
to prevent burning that kind of thing.
Yeah, my grandparents line pans with banana leaves for some things.

I found a recipe for imu-cooked pork (kalua) that's made in the oven that calls for liquid smoke to imitate the flavor of the wood coals so I might try that.
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Old 09-15-2005, 07:13 AM   #6
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When I got married in May we had a pig-roast where we dug an imu and did the whole shebang from stacking the wood, using traditional rocks, wrapping pig in banana leaves... It was GREAT!!! I got a lot of complements, and a lot of surprised faces when they found out it was the groom who did the cooking...

First, there are a ton of recipes posted on the internet about doing Kalua Pig in a crockpot and adding liquid smoke... With all the energy of my heart PLEASE do not do this!!! If you need to cook it in the crockpot, that's alright, but if you want to get that smoke flavor you need to smoke your food! It was a lot easier to cook the pig underground than I expected, with less effort than I expected as well, and the results were SOOO worth it! If you aren't feeding 200 people then you don't have to do a whole pig. Dig a smaller pit (still needs to be the same depth, just not as wide/long) and wrap rolled pork legs in banana leaves... Also, traditionally you use crushed banana stumps, but we had the wedding in Utah. Not a whole lot of banana trees in Utah, so we used halved green cabbages. What? Yes, cabbage. Watercress works as well, you just need to soak them in hot water for an hour or so before adding them to the pit. Also, banana leaves aren't always the easiest things to find, especially fresh. You can usually find them frozen at specialty import shops but I've only found them fresh in one store (granted, I only really looked in Denver and the Salt Lake City area) in Denver. The banana leaves also could use a good soaking. So, our pit was rocks, 6" layer of soaked green cabbage, 4" layer of banana leaves, pig wrapped in banana leaves and a couple onions thrown in around pig, about 50 potatoes wrapped in foil (sweet potatoes are wonderful cooked this way) and then another 4" layer of banana leaves. About 6" layer of blankets soaked in HOT water (or you can use about 50 burlap sacks if you have them on hand) and then a tarp and then you cover the whole deal with all the dirt from the hole, sealing the edges with a little water to create a pressure cooker. Check around the edges every so often to see if any steam is coming through, if there is then you need to add more dirt to that area and pack it down good and firm.

Sorry about the lengthy post!
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Old 09-15-2005, 03:12 PM   #7
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I know what you mean. We cooked one for a graduation and it was great! We have lots of banana trees so we had no problem there. But now I don't really have the means to go all out and I was just trying to change things up a little with crockpot cooking so....I might also try some fish or chicken. I'm trying to decide if I want to put vegetables in with it.

Here's a good website for more detailed instructions of imu cooking:

http://www.primitiveways.com/Imu1.html

Thanks again
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Old 09-23-2005, 05:35 AM   #8
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We didn't have a banana plant, and used ti leaves quite often. Foil is O.K., not the same, but make do with what you have. But if you live in an area where it doesn't freeze, grow some ti (very, very easy to grow) and use them.
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