One of our favourite dishes from a cooking class we did in Vietnam last year was a banana flower salad. It was the first time either of us had made anything with banana flowers and it was really quite good. The banana flowers had a subtle almost nutty flavour which wasn’t strongly ‘bananary’. This combined with juicy little prawns, a hit of fresh herbs and a zesty dressing made for a cracking dish. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Banana flower salad: Ingredients (serves 5-6)
1 banana flower
Bowl of acidulated water*
300g pork fillet, diced into 2-3cm strips
1 tsp chicken stock powder / 1 chicken stock cube, crushed
300g fresh baby prawns**
1 carrot, pealed and julienned
1 small onion, pealed, cut in half and then sliced thinly
1 cup bean sprouts, soaked in cold water
1 cup each (loosely packed leaves only) of Vietnamese mint and normal mint
1 shallot, finely sliced
1/2 cup of peanuts
2 fresh limes, quartered
3 Tsp fish sauce
3 Tsp water
3 Tsp white sugar
1 tsp chilli jam***
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Juice of half a lime
Banana flower salad: Method
- Peel and discard the tough outer reddish leaves from the banana flower. Remove the little immature bananas and then the creamy coloured heart. Finely slice both and leave in a bowl of acidulated water while you prep the other ingredients.*
- Combine pork, chicken stock powder and a good grind of black pepper in a bowl and set aside
- Combine all dressing ingredients and give a good stir to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.
- Fry off the sliced shallot until it’s golden brown and crispy. Put aside on a piece of kitchen paper to drain any excess oil.
- Heat oil over a medium to high heat and fry the pork until browned and cooked through. Set aside.
- Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Cook your prawns for 3-4 minutes until they have gone a nice bright reddy / orange colour. Once they have cooled enough, peel and devein and then mix together with the pork.
- Drain the banana flower and mix together with the julienned carrot, onion and bean sprouts.
- To serve divide the banana flower mix onto each plate. Top with the pork and prawns and garnish with peanuts and crispy shallots. Finally put a little mound of herbs on the side with a wedge of lime. Each person can then dress it as they like.
*NOTE: Acidulated water is just water with a good squeeze of lemon juice added. Soaking the banana flower in this keeps it from browning but also helps to remove a bitter flavoured sap. We have read that you should soak the banana flower for at least a few hours or overnight but we didn’t do this during the cooking class and it tasted great.
**NOTE: If you can’t get fresh baby prawns just use the best large ones you can find and cut them in half
***NOTE: Try your local Asian grocer for Vietnamese chilli jam. If you can’t find it, you could probably use sweet chilli sauce as a replacement.