Banana Blossoms

banana blossom opened

Banana Blossom History

The South East Asians were the first peoples known to cultivate banana plants. In Malaysia the prepared blossoms as well as immature green fruits are combined and cooked into a curry.  The Indonesians slice the fruit and simmer it in coconut milk then serve it as a vegetable.

About Banana Blossoms

hanging banana blossomBanana blossoms are about a foot long. To use the tough outer leaves are removed and only the tendor core is sliced and eaten. The prepared blossom must be soaked in an acidic water to keep it from browning. The sliced leaves are used in salads or eaten as a vegetable which tastes a bit like an artichoke heart.  Many Asian cultures eat banana blossoms. Blossoms are available fresh (preferred) or canned in Asian grocery stores.

Featured Recipe - Banana Blossom Salad

FromThe Elephant Walk Cookbook (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998) by Nyoum Trayong Chaek.  Serves: 4 

Ingredients

  • 1 banana blossom (1- 1 1/2 pounds) - available in Asian markets 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
  • 4 cups water 
  • 1 large whole chicken breast (about 3/4 pound) 
  • 1 cup loosely packed mint leaves 
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves 
  • 1/2 pound mung beans sprouts 
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced 
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, roasted (see below) and coarsely ground 
  • 1/3 cup Dressing for Salad (see below) 
Dressing for Salad (Tuk Trey)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 1 garlic clove 
  • 1 small shallot 
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce 
  • 5 teaspoons fresh lime juice 
  • 2 teaspoons salt 

Instructions

Fill a large bowl with water mixed with the juice of 1 lemon. Set aside.

Remove the tough outer layer of the banana blossom and discard it, along with the undeveloped "baby" bananas inside. Carefully pull away the next several layers of leaves, regularly cutting into the stem to make it easier to break them off (the aim is to keep the leaves whole if possible). Lay several leaves on top of one another and slice the leaves crosswise into 1/4-inch wide strips. To keep the leaved from turning black, place sliced leaves in the acidulated water, turning occasionally.

Continue in this fashion, releasing the leaves discarding the undeveloped bananas and cutting the leaves into strips, until you reach the "heart." Cut this center in half lengthwise, remove as many "babies" as possible, and slice the remaining leaves widthwise about 1/4-inch thick.

In a medium saucepan, bring the 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the chicken breast and return to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the meat is tender. Remove the chicken from the pan and let cool slightly, then shred the meat with your fingers.

In a large salad bowl, toss all the vegetables, mint and basil together with the chicken. Setting aside a handful for garnish, mix in the ground peanuts. Add dressing and toss. Sprinkle with the remaining peanuts and serve immediately. 

Roasted Peanuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put raw peanuts in a shallow pan and bake, stirring occasionally to ensure even roasting , until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. When the nuts are cold, grind them with mortar and pestle.

Dressing for Salad

In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add the sugar, stirring to dissolve. Set aside and allow to cool.

Pound the garlic and shallot into small pieces with a mortar and pestle; or grind in a food processor. Stir into sugar water, then add the remaining ingredients.

Cooking Tips

  • Select firm blossoms that don't show any signs of decay
  • Use the blossoms as soon as possible.  If you must store them for a day or so, don't wash it but wrap in well in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  • Use the sturdy boat-shaped outer leaves as a serving dish for salads or a curry.  Make sure to rinse first with cool water, then dry.
banana blossom with flowers

The Edible Blossom

banana blossom sliced open

 

This image shows the interior portion of the banana blossom.  Once sliced open the blossom must be placed in aciduated (acidic) water to keep it from oxidizing and turning brown.  This blossom will be sliced and added to a fresh salad.

Image Credits

All images are copyright Gourmetsleuth.com

whole banana blossom

author

Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of GourmetSleuth.com she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.