Snake in Banana Leaves

My co-workers invited us over for an office party yesterday, and they promised a particularly enticing entree: snake in banana leaves. I was a bit uncertain about eating snake, but had promised to at least try it. When we arrived, we learned that we were actually the targets of an elaborate language misunderstanding turned practical joke; we would instead be treated to a “snack” cooked in banana leaves. The snack started out as a mixture of spring onions, shallots, garlic, oil, rice powder, and water in a large bowl. My co-workers then taught us how to assemble envelopes using the banana leaves that they had been harvesting (from the office property) and cutting all morning.

Volunteers and other assorted expats assembling “snake” packets

Here Kenny models the process of assembling a banana leaf packet:

Step 1: stack a small banana leaf piece on top of a larger one
Step 2: spoon a dollop of snake mixture on top of the leaves
Step 3: use your fingers to make a lengthwise crease in the banana leaves

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Step 4: fold the sides to make a banana leaf envelope

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Step 5: hold the assembled envelope in one hand and use the other to pierce it with a half toothpick (for conservation purposes)
Step 6 (not shown): use scissors to trim excess banana leaf off the top of the envelope

Step 7: steam

Step 8: enjoy with fried garlic, spring onion root, coriander, and dried red chilies (one chili per bite, we were instructed)

During the steaming process, the rice mixture solidifies and the result is like an Asian tamale. We each ate two of them plain, and they were delicious. Then my co-workers taught us how you are supposed to eat them: garnish with garlic, chilies, and other condiments. This added deliciousness prompted each of us to eat about eight more. :)

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