As sponsor and participant in the 2012 OpSail Virginia™ Fleet Chef Challenge, Culinary Institute of Virginia's chef/instructor Greg Burroughs was inspired by a dish from Ecuador. He has since created his own twist on the country's native leaf-wrap.
Using fresh local corn, Burroughs incorporates not only the leaves, but the husk as well. Splitting the leaves and husk from tip to about one-half inch above the base, he gently cuts into the cob, twists the knife and breaks the cob in half for easy removal from the husk. He then fills the husk and leaves with fresh local fish - from tuna or mahi filets to whole croaker or spot - complemented with lemon, salt, pepper and seasonings of choice. He then wraps the fish-filled husk and leaves in tin foil and lets the grill do the rest, yielding a rich tasty summer treat. The remainder of the corn cob can be mixed in a vegetable medley or served Mexican street vendor style with Cotija cheese as detailed in the recipe below.
"Native cultures have been using banana and other indigenous leaves for wrapping fish and other foods for centuries, and it's great here too," says Burroughs, who has worked at ECPI University's Culinary Institute of Virginia (CIV) in Norfolk for five years and has more than 30 years experience in the industry. "If using whole croaker or spot, you can simply hold the tail and pull the bones right out of the whole fish, fresh off the grill. Tuna or mahi filets makes the meal even easier and equally delicious. You can choose a range of ingredients to taste, and as corn, vegetables and other local seafood go into prime season, the combinations are almost endless."