Update: Thank you Joumana! She sent me a picture she took from a banana tree in flower in Tyre, Lebanon to show you I speak the truth lol. Look at that stunning deep blue purple!
Here is one of those great ‘what the heck is it’ finds I recently made while in Chinatown in Toronto. I am such a sucker for the unknown in my plate! A giant purple pod like item caught my attention on our way to the cash register. Sold in twos the sign said these pods were Banana Flowers. In the cart they went and back to Montreal they traveled.
Unfortunately with the traveling the veggie blackened but I swear it was purple before. After a bit of research I found out Banana Flowers, the flower of the banana tree, are close to artichokes in taste (very subtle) and in preparation and are a common item in Asian cuisine. And yes the lemon bath is essential as it will turn black from oxidization, although it remains still tasty and edible (which was my case). In between each ‘leaf’ of the flower there is a series of pods all lined up in a row. I was taken by surprise and screamed when I removed the first leaf and the pods jumped all over the place.
They are usually served as a salad and I found a great recipe for Vietnamese version. But before I tell you about the recipe let me explain how to prepare the flower. As I said before imagine an artichoke but there is no fuzzy middle. Just pluck and discard the first 2-3 layers as they are older and tougher. Cut the first few inches off the tapered end and discard, as well as bit of the bottom part. What you are left with is all edible. Prepare as desired.
Banana Flower Salad
1 banana flower
2 teaspoons of sugar
1 teaspoons of salt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon of chopped garlic
1 teaspoon of chopped chili
1/3 cup of fresh basil
1/3 cup of crushed peanuts
Cut the banana flower into bit size strands with a knife. Place in a mixing bowl and add the salt, sugar, oil and lemon juice. Next add the garlic, chili, basil and peanuts and continue mixing. Place some lettuce in a bowl and top with the banana flower mixture in the middle.
I served it as an accompaniment with a South African dish called Bobotie. I have to say off the bat I was not finding this experience very mouth watering. I felt more like I was a scientists dealing with a prehistoric plant. But in the end it was really good and I hope to find some in Montreal soon.
Aw gee thanks Sara, that is so sweet!
You are one of the blogs that shows me new and interesting things. And not just once in a while. Thank you for that.
I just love introducing new ingredients and I am so happy about all your responses. By the way you can get it is a can in Asian grocery stores…but it’s never the same then the fresh ingredient.
Kudos to you for daring to try such unusual ingredients! I guess, since bananas are fruit, it’s only logical their should be banana flowers, but it had never occurred to me!
What a neat ingredient – i would love to try a banana flower if I ever see one!
Huh, I have to admit that I never heard of banana flower, nor my parents. Thanks for sharing this “what the heck is it” ingredient!
I gotta say thar you are very brave to try all kind of dishes. I am glad this turned to be a very intersting dish to make. I’ve never had banana flower before. I bet a lot of people find it intersting though. Thanks for sharing your experince with us!
Alright…I do like artichokes…so why not adventure myself the next time I happen to come by a banana flower ;o) I think I would certainly have been attracted to the purple color of this novelty you’ve shown me today.
Evelyne, thanks for being adventurous for all our palates ;o)
Ciao for now and have a great Sunday,
While I was in Tyre at the orange house with the two ladies (caretakers of the giant turtles) I saw a lot of purple banana flowers. I think I may even have a photo and can send it to you if you want to include it in your post, so people see you are not lying! :))
This salad looks and sounds fantastic; I love these simple and tangy salads.
Oh how neat! Very interesting.
Fantastic. I love TO Chinatown. It always manages to make me feel transported. This is so awesome … Banana flowers … you go sister :)! Next time I’m in TO that is what I will be looking for at the CTM. Great pic of the open pod …
Very cool recipe–I need to get my hands on some banana flowers & give this salad a try.
HOw unusual! I had never thought of eating the banana flower! I’m looking out our banana plants differently now! Maybe we won’t have to wait for the bananas to form and ripen. Thanks!