Banana leaves give an aromatic flavor that’s quintessential to Philippine cooking. Because they are abundant in the terrain, they are used as wraps to serve food in. And don’t worry — they’re easier to prepare than you think.
Because modernity is trampling on old traditions in the Philippines, the binalot — a meal wrapped in banana leaves — has been slowly disappearing. So when I found a place close to my office that was still preparing lunch packs in banana leaves, I became its No. 1 client. There is nothing better than to receive a lunch pack wrapped in leaves, because when you open it, you are greeted by a fantastic aroma and the sight of eggs, tomatoes and meat over a little mountain of steamed rice.
You eat off the leaves themselves, and when you are done, you just close up the pack again and throw it away. Everything is natural, which makes it even better. These lunch packs are not comprised exclusively of chicken and pork adobo. They can also be prepared with other traditional dishes along with a little mound of rice to eat them with.
Chicken pork adobo and steamed rice wrapped in banana leaves recipe
Called binalot in the Philippines, this lunch pack wrapped in banana leaves has a certain uniqueness that makes eating an adventure. How I love unwrapping the parcels, inhaling the delicious aroma of an unmistakable Asian meal and eating straight off the leaves.
Prep time: 20 minutes | Inactive time: 2 hours | Cook time: 50 minutes | Total time: 3 hours 10 minutes
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- Ground pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 chicken thighs
- 6 ounces pork belly, sliced
- 4-1/2 cups water, divided
- Olive oil
- 2 cups raw rice
- 8-10 cherry tomatoes
- 2 eggs
- 2-4 large, fresh banana leaves, rinsed well and patted dry
- In a small bowl, prepare the marinade of soy sauce, lemon juice, 1 crushed garlic clove and pepper. Adjust the taste to your preference.
- In a large bowl, marinate the chicken and pork with the soy sauce marinade. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- While the meats marinate, in a medium saucepan on high heat, cook the rice with 3-3/4 cups of water. When the water boils, reduce the heat to low, partially cover, and simmer for about 17 minutes or until the rice is cooked through and the water has evaporated. Set aside, and cover to keep warm.
- To cook the eggs, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, boil some water. When the water boils, cook the eggs for about 5 to 7 minutes, until soft-boiled. When the eggs have cooled, peel off the shells.
- Once the chicken and pork have marinated, in a saucepan over medium heat, boil the chicken and pork in the marinade. Once the liquid is boiling, add the remaining 3/4 cup of water, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Separate the chicken and pork from the sauce by transferring them to separate bowls.
- In the same saucepan over medium heat and with olive oil, sauté the remaining garlic clove for 1 minute, and then brown the chicken and the pork.
- Return the sauce to the saucepan, and cook for another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, and cover to keep warm.
- To assemble the meal, lay the banana leaves flat on the table, and then place some rice on top of them. Place the chicken and pork adobo on top of the rice, along with the eggs and tomatoes.
- Fold the banana leaves, and tie them up with a string.