Banana blossom (or banana flower) is popularly used as a type of vegetable in Vietnam, especially in the Central. You find this flower as a side vegetable that goes with a lot of dishes in Hue cuisine like Bun Bo Hue, Bun hen (clam noodle), com hen (clam rice), and spring rolls. It's considered to be a cool vegetable that is preferred to consume in the summer.
Banana flower salad
Banana blossom salad (nom hoa chuoi or goi hoa chuoi) is a pretty well-known dish in Vietnam and there're a variety of recipes for it like banana blossom salad with chicken, banana blossom salad with shrimp or with tofu. The recipe introduced below goes with shrimp and pork, and originates from the North, pretty simple and exotic.
- 1 banana blossom (about 1-1 1/2 pound or about 500-700 grams)
- 200 grams pork belly
- 200 grams raw shrimp or prawn, peeled and divined
- 1/4 cup roasted peanut, coarsely crushed
- 1/4 cup + 1/2 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 tablespoon Northern thick fish sauce (Mam tom Bac) or substitute by 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 piece of ginger (about 0.3 inch or 0.7 centimeters), peeled and minced
- 1/4 cup pepper mint (hung que)
- 1 red sweet pepper (more if you like spicy)
- Choose a good banana blossom at the first place. Take a look at the flower you're going to buy: A good banana blossom should not have dark color or a bunch of bruises on it. Also look at the bottom end of the stem: if it's wilted and dark, that banana blossom must have been sitting in the store for a fairy long time (therefore, no longer good). You will also want to press your finger on the blossom: the one that touches firm should be a good one. If you get a good one, it's okay to let it breath in your refrigerator for a few days.
- In a large bowl, combine about 1.5 quart (about 1.4 liter) cold water with 1/4 cup lime juice. Set aside to soak banana blossom later.
- Fill half the sink with cold water.
- Remove the tough outer layer of the banana blossom and discard it along with the undeveloped "baby" bananas inside that you'll easily see once you remove the outer layer. Cut off the top end of the banana blossom about 2 millimeters (0.1 inch) as this part is often bruised and dark.
- Place banana blossom on a cutting board and slice it across as thinly as possible. Totally sink the sliced banana blossom in the prepared water sink. Once you've cut the banana blossom to almost a half, take a pause. Now, cut off the bottom end of the stem and pull away the next layers of leaves and discard all the "baby" bananas you'll find inside. Lay those leaves on top of one another then continue to slice them as thinly as you can. Soak these sliced leaves in the water sink.
- Soak the sliced banana blossom in the water sink then discard the water. Fill the sink again and repeat the previous process for 1-2 more times then transfer the flower into the lime juice and water bowl prepared at the first step. Totally sink all the flower in this mixture to keep it from turning black. Banana blossoms only needs 5 seconds to turn black if it contacts directly with the air so you'd better get this step done fast.
- In a medium or small pot, bring 4 cups of water with a little bit salt to a warm. Wash the pork belling then add into the pot and bring to a boil. You may want to half the pork piece to fasten the cooking process. Boil the meat for about 20 minutes. Turn the meat over at half time. Let the pork rest and cool down for a few minutes.
- Meanwhile, rinse the shrimp and pat dry on paper towel. Set aside.
- Transfer fish sauce into a small bowl.
- In a medium pan, heat up 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and saute minced garlic and ginger in this oil until garlic smells nicely then transfer this mixture into the shrimp paste bowl and combine with sugar and 1/2 tablespoon remaining lime juice. If you use fish sauce, no need to worry about this saute step. Simply combine fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, garlic, ginger and 1/2 tablespoon water.
- Add the shrimp into this pan and saute until the shrimp is cooked. Add a little bit additional oil if necessary.
- Now the meat should be rested enough. Place it on a clean cutting board and cut into very fine strips. Do the same with the shrimp. Reserve a couple shrimps to garnish later if wanted. Transfer the sliced pork and shrimp into a mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Rinse the herb and chop finely. Reserve couple leaves for garnishing later if you want. Transfer to the pork and shrimp bowl.
- Rinse chili pepper, discard stem and finely chop along the length. Transfer to the mixing bowl above.
- Now, there're two ways you can work with the chopped banana blossom: 1)You can strain it on a colander then transfer to the mixing bowl. In this way, banana blossom will have more crispy flavor but a little bit tart. 2) Bring 4 cup water to just a a boil, remove from the oven then soak banana blossom in this hot water for about 30 seconds and strain. This way will take away the crisp but also the tart flavor. I've done both before and they were both good.
- We're almost there, now, simply add the blossom into the pork and shrimp bowl, then add in fish sauce and crusted peanut and mix thoroughly. Next step: Serve and enjoy this unique salad dish that you never find in Western cuisine ;)
This is very fresh and typical salad of Vietnamese cuisine. The green papaya had been used for many dishes but the best one must be the salad. The sense of green papaya is well known as the typical sense in the kitchen and turn to be symbol for Vietnamese cuisine. The salad has fresh taste of the green papaya, beautiful matching with the taste of chicken and peanut and balance in sweet and sour taste. You also can replace chicken by shrimp or pork depends on your taste.
Green Papaya Salad
Ingredients: Serves 4
- 350 g - Chicken breast fillets
- 1 - Large green papaya
- 20 g - Vietnamese mint
- 15 g - Fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves
- 2 - Red chilies, seeded and finely sliced
- 2 tablespoons - fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon - Rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon - Lime juice
- 2 teaspoons - Sugar
- 2 tablespoons - Unsalted roasted peanuts, finely chopped
- Place the chicken in a frying pan with enough water to just cover it. Simmer gently for 8 to 10 minutes or until cooked. Remove from the liquid, cool completely, then slice finely.
- Peel the papaya, then grate the flesh into long shreds. Mix gently with the mint, coriander, chili, fish sauce, vinegar, lime juice and sugar.
- Arrange the papaya mixture on a serving plate and top with the chicken.
- Scatter with peanuts and serve immediately.
This is very special fresh, tasty and authentic salad from pomelo and always been considered as very delicacy salad in any meals or restaurant. The salad has a great balance between fresh taste of the pomelo and shrimp and lean pork. It can be highlight in any meals or in the menu of the restaurant.
Ingredients : Serves 4
- 2 tablespoons: Salad dressing
- 8: Shrimp crackers, deep fried
- 1: Pomelo or grapefruit, peeled and segmented
- 50: Lean pork, cooked and thinly sliced
- 100 g: Shrimps, deveined, cooked and peeled
- 1 teaspoon: Chopped polygonum
- 1 tablespoon: White sesame seeds, roasted
- Peel membrane form pomelo or grapefruit segments and remove sacs.
- Combine sacs with pork, shrimps and polygonum leaves in a large mixing bowl.
- Add salad dressing and toss well to combine.
- Transfer salad to a serving plate and garnish with sesame seeds.
- Serve with shrimp crackers on the side.