This fish-recipe is most definitely a method devised to capture the unique aroma of Pandanus leaves.
Pwason an wob vè
Fish in Pandanus Leaf
The following recipe is most definitely a method devised to capture the unique aroma of Pandanus leave. One should therefore choose a fish that does not have an overpowering or distinctive flavour but has a firm flesh (for example, cod or see bass). The aroma of this dish is determined by the fish that is cooked in this leaf – the sauce is optional and can add as much of an aesthetic touch as a flavoursome one. The sauce is also a tad bitter, so take care not to serve more than a couple of drops of it. This fish dish was served as a starter at the «send-off» meal that Hektor Maille allowed his cook to prepare for him on the eve of his departure on «Mission Kaki». However, it can also be served as the main course – naturally then as a larger portion and, accompanied, for instance, by rice (which can be steamed also with one or two Pandanus leaves).
Wash 2 of the Pandanus leaves and cut them into fine strips. Cook lightly for 5 minutes with 1.5 dl water and a pinch of salt, then take it off the stove and allow it to cool.
Puree the Pandanus water together with Coconut milk in a mixer, strain through a fine sieve, and firmly press the water out of the paste remaining in the sieve. A bit of this paste can go into the sauce. Put the sauce into a tiny pan and leave aside (it should be warmed up just before the fish is ready).
Pat the fish filet dry, cut into 3x3 cm large pieces, and add a pinch of salt and pepper.
Wash the remaining Pandanus leaves, roll tightly and break into small pieces.
Lay the leaves with the glossy side downwards, place the pieces on fish on them, wrap the leaf around the fish, and fasten with a tooth-pick. The protruding bits of leaf can be snipped off.
One can cook these little fish packages in either a hot frying-pan with a little oil – about 3 or 4 minutes per side. Or, one can bake the fish in the oven after sprinkling a few drops of water on the bottom of the oven for about 10 or 15 minutes at 200°. Naturally, the packages can also be steamed in a bamboo basket. When the fish is cooked in the pan, the leaves turn a brown colour and the fish turns out slightly crunchy; it is more tender when it is baked in the oven or when it is steamed.
Just before the fish is fully cooked, warm the sauce and cook till it is slightly thick, add a pinch of salt.
Sprinkle a couple of drops of sauce on the plate, place the fish on it and serve immediately.
Instead of fish, one can also use pieces of chicken in the leaves. One can also marinate the chicken – in soya sauce, sesame oil, chilly, garlic etc – but it will then contain less of the subtle flavour of Pandanus leaves.
Cooked in the pan, the leaves of the little packages turn a brown colour - as a contermove the fish turns out slightly crunchy.
More about the travel adventure of Secret Agent Hektor Maille: