Glossy, green Hawaiian ti ("tee") leaves are traditionally used both to wrap food and in flower arrangements. Prep and Cook Time: about 1 1/2 hours. Notes: Find ti leaves at www.tropicalgardensofmaui.com or at florists' shops (ask for leaves that have not been sprayed). You can also use banana leaves, available frozen in Asian- and Latin-food markets (they aren't as flexible, but will work). Wrap the laulau up to 4 hours ahead, then cover and chill (if chilled, steam for an extra minute or two). Hawaiian red clay salt is sold in specialty-food stores; it has a distinctive color, crunch, and earthy flavor.
About 8 large fresh ti leaves or 1 package (1 lb.) thawed frozen banana leaves
1 1/2 pounds mahimahi fillets, rinsed and patted dry
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 large carrot, peeled
1 red bell pepper, stem and inner ribs trimmed
8 green onions, white and pale green parts only
1 tablespoon butter
1 piece fresh ginger (4 in.), peeled and minced
2 limes, cut into wedges
About 1 1/2 tbsp. Hawaiian red clay salt or sea salt
How to Make It
If using ti leaves, cut each leaf in half along center rib and discard rib. If using banana leaves, soak in warm water to soften. Tear 12 long, narrow strips from 1 or 2 leaves and boil 30 seconds; drain. Cut remaining leaves with the grain into 24 strips, each about 12 in. by 3 in.
Cut fish into 12 equal pieces (about 2 in. by 2 in. each) and sprinkle both sides with coarse kosher salt. Chill 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut carrot, bell pepper, and green onions into 2-in. lengths and then cut into thinnest possible slivers. Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add vegetables and ginger and sauté, stirring often, until softened but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
Arrange 2 strips of ti or banana leaves, shiny sides down, on top of one another in a cross shape. Place 1 mahimahi piece in center of cross, then top with a generous tbsp. vegetable mixture. Beginning with lower strip, fold leaves over filling, alternating strips and using each new strip to fold loose end of previous strip over filling. Tuck last strip beneath packet, then tie closed with boiled leaf strips. Repeat with remaining leaf strips, fish, and vegetables.
Set a rack or steamer basket in a large pot and add water to about 1/2 in. below top of rack. Bring water to a boil over high heat. Place fish packets in a single layer on rack or in basket (steam in batches if necessary). Cover pot tightly and steam until fish is just barely opaque in the center, 6 to 10 minutes (do not overcook; cut to test). Tip packets to drain any water. Serve hot or warm, with lime wedges and Hawaiian red clay salt.