Snacks, salads and soups

Banana flower salad with pork, prawns and fresh mint

Banana flower salad

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)

For salad

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

Black pepper

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


For dressing

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

  1. 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.*
  2. Combine pork, chicken stock powder and a good grind of black pepper in a bowl and set aside
  3. Combine all dressing ingredients and give a good stir to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.
  4. 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.
  5. Heat oil over a medium to high heat and fry the pork until browned and cooked through. Set aside.
  6. 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.
  7. Drain the banana flower and mix together with the julienned carrot, onion and bean sprouts.
  8. 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.

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