Now how often have you walked through the markets and seen those lovely purple objects and wondered what they are, or knowing what they are, how would you use them?
Well, they can be stir-fried, stewed, roasted, steamed, used in curries, probably prepared in any number of ways. There is a great post showing how to prepare the blossom for a Filipino dish with coconut milk.
But today, we have a recipe that is based on a salad that I ate at the Sofitel Hanoi about 10 years ago. The recipe was part of a cooking class given by Mrs Nguyen Thi Kim Hai, the head Vietnamese chef at the hotel. The class was the first of the inaugural Viet Nam tour with The Unlimited Cuisine Company, run by Tony Tan, in 1998. The class followed a tour of the December 19 Market where we were exposed to loads of new ingredients and ideas.
The sliced banana blossom needs to be kept in acidulated water to prevent it oxidising and becoming brown. A cookbook described the blossom as having a taste "like very tender wood shavings"!! It is more a textural thing, but I really like the crunchiness. Cut the blossom very finely and forget the idea of wood-shavings.
Banana Blossom Salad
1 fresh banana flower
100 g pork fillet, sliced thinly
100 g chicken breast, sliced thinly
50 g bean sprouts
30 g palm (or brown) sugar
30 g fish sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 red chilli, seeded
50 g peanuts, roasted
1/4 cup rau ram (Vietnamese mint)
1/2 red pepper, sliced
1/2 cup mixed herbs – thai basil, coriander, saw-tooth coriander
8 thin slices of lemon (lime)
Salt and pepper for seasoning
20 g sesame seeds, lightly roasted
Fried shallots for decoration
Thinly slice the banana flower leaves and dip them in water with a little lemon juice for about 30 minutes, then rinse them under running water until the water becomes clear and leave them in the water.
Place the sliced pork fillet and the chicken breasts in a bowl that fits into the Varoma. Place 500 g water in the TM bowl and steam the meat for 15 minutes at Varoma temperature on speed 3. Check meat after 10 minutes and stop if cooked through at this stage.
Blanch the bean sprouts by placing into the TM bowl with the water used to steam the meat and cook for 30 seconds at 80°C on reverse and speed 1. Drain and refresh in iced water.
Place the palm sugar, fish sauce, lemon juice and chilli into the TM bowl mix for 10 seconds at speed 7. Marinade chicken and pork with this sauce while preparing remaining ingredients.
Place peanuts and rau ram into TM bowl and chop for 5 seconds on speed 5. Remove and keep aside.
Drain the banana flower and bean sprouts.
In a large bowl mix banana flower, sprouts, meats with marinade, peanuts and rau ram, red pepper and herbs roughly chopped. Check for seasoning and add salt/pepper as desired.
Plate out and garnish with sesame seeds and dried shallots.