When I tasted a banana flower salad for the very first time, I had a blast. What a lovely salad this is! I tasted it during a great cooking class in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Wait a minute, what is banana flower salad?
And can you really eat those purple banana flowers?
Oh absolutely! My favorite recipe?
This banana flower salad below, that also goes by the name of banana blossom salad.
I definitely remember the first time that I tried this banana flower salad salad during a cooking class, and then again in a restaurant in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
What a flavor explosion! I really hadn’t expected that.
So a couple of years later we traveled to the island of Penang, Malaysia and stayed there for a few weeks. One day we were doing some grocery shopping at the local Tesco’s.
And there it was, fresh banana flowers at the vegetable department.
Those beautiful purple flowers just sat there alongside the fresh bok choy and the kangkung, or morning glory in Malay.
So you can imagine that I was as happy as a kid in a candy store! I took a couple of banana flowers home with me together with a bunch of the other ingredients that I needed to make my banana flower salad.
And went to work straight away.
What does banana flower taste like?
That is a good question.
And also a hard one to answer. I have read about a lot of ingredients people think of when they describe its flavor.
Me personally I would say that the flavor reminds me a little of artichoke leaves and the crunch and freshness come close to the crunch and freshness of raw endives (also known as chicory).
Help, the flower tastes bitter!
I don’t know where you live.
Banana trees thrive in warm countries. So maybe you have a banana tree in your garden, or a family member or friend does.
And you want to try this salad out. So you cut that lovely big fat purple flower off its thick stem. You slice it, let it soak and you do everything by the book. Just like my recipe says. And then there’s the moment of truth.
You try it. And it is awfully bitter. Just as if you just bit into a banana peel, yuk!
I know, I have had that before as well.
Our neighbour in Spain has a banana tree.
And because she had a bunch of flowers on it and way too many bananas to harvest last year, she told me that I could cut one off for my banana flower salad thai.
The end result was quite inedible.
I was so surprised! Now I know why it was bitter.
You need to cut the flower from the banana tree before it becomes bitter, which means that it has to be very young and small. Before the banana sprouts underneath the leaves are getting bigger.
Once you realise that your banana flower tastes bitter, there is no way anymore to get rid of that taste. Then the flower is too old to eat raw.
Banana Flower Recipes
I tasted a chicken and banana flower salad in Thailand also.
There are many other things to do with that lovely banana flower apart from making this banana flower salad. You can also add it to curries as a vegetable, to soups and in stir fries. Back in Thailand we even tried banana flower fritters with holy basil.
And they were absolutely scrumptious!
So what was the verdict in the end?
Banana Flower Salad
Well my homemade banana flower salad was just amazing.
Because it absolutely tasted just the way I remembered it back then when we tried that same crunchy salad in Thailand a few times.
Yay! Good job!
And now I can’t wait to make this banana flower salad recipe again.
Thai Banana Flower Salad Recipe
You will love this banana flower salad!
- 1 medium fresh carrot
- 1 small garlic clove
- 2 small banana flowers
- 1 small shallot
- 1 inch fresh ginger (2,5 cm)
- a handful salted peanuts
- 1 tbsp dried anchovies (optional)
- a handful fresh mint
- 2 tbsp palm sugar
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp hot sauce
- 2 fresh limes
Prepare a bowl of of ice cold water and juice of half a lime. Put it in the fridge until later. Peel and chop the garlic, ginger and shallot. Then add them to a large bowl. Also add the fish sauce, soy sauce, hot sauce, juice of 1 lime and 3 tablespoons of water.
Also add the palm sugar. Stir well and then put this marinade aside until later.
Next up: the banana flower!
Peel away the purple leaves. Underneath each one of them is a row of banana sprouts.
Remove the purple leaves until you reach the softer white center, the edible part. Discard the purple leaves (or keep some aside for serving) and bigger banana sprouts.
Chop the stem off. Underneath these whiter leaves are also edible sprouts.
Slice the white center finely. Do this quickly because it changes color fast.
Then soak the sliced banana flower in the ice water.
Peel and grate the carrot.
Drain the banana flower. Discard the lime.
Add the banana flower and grated carrot to a large bowl.
Then add the shredded mint and crushed peanuts.
Stir. Add the dried anchovies (optional). You can replace them by half a teaspoon of shrimp paste.
Then add the marinade.
Stir the banana flower salad and then check the seasoning. Add extra lime juice, fish sauce, chili sauce or sugar to taste. Then put the salad in the fridge for another 10 minutes to marinate before serving.