When I was in Mae Sot, I took a cooking class at Tea Garden, which is the restaurant at Borderline Collective. One of the dishes I wanted to learn how to make was Burmese banana wraps, but as we got back from the visit to the local market, we realized that we did not have any banana leaves.
No problem! Ton from Borderline Collective has several banana trees in his garden, and one of them could need a little trim. Eh Soe, Ton and I therefore went to Ton’s garden, armed with a giant machete to cut the leaves, and you can see in the video below how it was done.
In many Asian countries, banana leaves are used for cooking. You do not eat the leaves, as they are rather flavorless and tough, so instead, the leaves are used for wrapping food and for steaming and grilling.
Before the banana leaves are ready to use, you need to wash them and remove any larger stems. If you are using banana leaves straight from the palm tree, you will also need to soften the leaves. This is done by passing the leaves over a gas burner or a gas range, so be careful not to burn your fingers. Another option is to heat the banana leaves in the oven for 5-10 minutes at 200°F. The heat softens the leaves and give them a bright green color, and now they are ready for use.