Savour Cacique | Banana Wrapped Grouper with Toasted Coconut Pesto
A wise man once said that growing your own food was like printing your own money. With this dish, the brainchild of Monica Hutchinson, our spear-fishing-island-hopping culinary explorer, we couldn't agree more. Because every spring-season ingredient is from our bountiful Bahamian garden. "Banana wrapped Grouper with Toasted Coconut Pesto" - just saying those magic words gets your senses buzzing with anticipation for those fresh flavours that will burst into a distinct impression of Bahamian spring.
my Backyard On Your Plate
Cacique. Last time we hung out, you re-imagined Bahamian Chicken Souse. We're excited to see what you have up your sleeve today. Is there a specific name for this spring dish?
Monica. Haha, yes! Banana Wrapped Grouper with Toasted Coconut Pesto otherwise known as "my backyard on your plate!"
C. What's so special about this dish? Is there a personal story behind it?
M. What I love about this dish is that it's super local and fresh. The banana leaves are cut from my front yard and I speared the grouper myself! I try to use what's around me and the fact that I harvested the main ingredients from basically my backyard really connects me to the island and I'm able to serve amazing and fresh food from sea/land to plate. It's simple but unique.
C. Is this a re-make of an original Bahamian dish?
M. Nope. It's inspired by the islands but this one is all mine. It's an original!
C. What's local about it? Where are the main ingredients from?
M. The main ingredients are local. Right from my yard. Can't get more local then that! The banana leaves are from my trees, the grouper from the ocean and the coconuts from the trees around me. I live on the beach so it's pretty cool that I can go for a swim and spear my dinner. I will admit though that there are days I come up empty handed but it's still a cool experience to be down there hunting for food. I feel connected to the land and ocean and that connection spills into my cooking. Nothing but love.
Great Ingredients Make Great Food
For the Grouper:
4 grouper fillets
2 cans coconut milk
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup lime juice
1 cup cilantro
1/4 cup ginger
6 garlic cloves smashed
2 goat peppers, cut open and left whole
1 onion, large dice
4 bay leaves & 4 banana leaves
For the Coconut Pesto:
1 cup shredded coconut, toasted
1/2 cup basil
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 cup lime juice
1 garlic clove
1 piece ginger
1. Mix coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice, cilantro, ginger, garlic, goat pepper, onion and bay leaf into a sauce pan.
2. Place the grouper fillets into the coconut solution making sure they are submerged and covered with liquid. On low heat poach the grouper for about 7 minutes. Meanwhile make the pesto.
3. Place all ingredients into a blender and puree.
4. Lay 4 banana leaves out on a flat surface. Remove the fillets from the coconut milk and place on the banana leaf. Place a spoon full of the pesto on top the fish and wrap it tight with the banana leaf. Place each packet on a medium grill and finish cooking for about 2 minutes per side. Once cooked open the banana leaf using a scissor and serve with citrus rice.
eat good, feel good
C. Is there a specific reason you're wrapping the grouper in banana leaves? Does it give it a bit more flavor?
M. Yes, the banana leaves brings another layer of flavor. It also makes for a unique and creative presentation!
C. Why grouper?
M. I'm using grouper because it is in season right now! But this recipe is versatile. You can use any type of fish you'd like. But since grouper is in season I can call this a spring time dish. It has a nice citrus punch that wakens your palate... perfect for spring time!
C. Are there any special spices you're using to season the grouper?
M. I like to poach it with goat pepper for a little kick but a very subtle kick.
C. When's the best time to enjoy a meal like this - for Sunday supper or lunchtime through the week?
M. Honestly, anytime is good for this type of dish.
C. What exciting ventures are you up to right now? Any new projects?
M. I have a few exciting projects in the works. Some I can't share just yet! Let's just say with one of my projects I'm redefining the meaning of a "beach picnic" :). I am currently the Consulting Executive Chef at Katsuya in Baha Mar. It's very exciting to be there and be a part of that team. It's one of the hottest restaurants in Nassau right now.
Savour Cacique |Culinary Experiences
Here at Cacique, we love to push boundaries - be it art, music, tableware or the culinary experience. That is why we are always on the look out for fresh new talent, with whom we can re-imagine classic cocktails and dishes. For enquiries about Cacique Culinary Experiences - tailor-made to wow the most discerning of palettes - please feel free to contact us.
Looking forward to our next gastronomic adventure! SS ;)