Monday, March 30, 2020

Covid-19 lockdown recipe 3: Banana blossom salad with tofu, coconut and other yummy things

I couldn't help noticing how many Auckland home gardens have a banana plant flowering at this time of the year, and I always wonder how many people actually eat their bananas, or their blossom.
Well, the bananas are delicious once they are ripe, and the blossoms.... truly special! I already have a couple of recipes here, (Noodles with banana flowers and a step by step banana blossom and potato salad), and yesterday I finally picked this year blossom and decided on an aromatic salad with fresh coconut flesh and tofu.

Cut the blossom and discard all the pink leaves and little flowers (they can be eaten too if you like, but the blossom is my favourite part).

Prepare a bowl with cold water and plenty of lemon juice, then cut the blossom into very thin strips and place in the lemon water as soon as you cut each slice. The centre of the blossom is made up of more little flowers like the ones above, just more tender, they will cut into small pieces as you slice the blossom. The lemon water will prevent the banana blossom to turn brown, but also will take away that sticky tangy taste. Leave in the lemon water for at least 30 minutes.

Keep the pink petals for decorations, or for 'plates' for your salad.

After 30 minutes (or more) drain the banana blossom and rinse well under cold running water, shake the water off and place into a bowl. Add a finely chopped shallot, and some finely cut capsicum or chili. I had three small black capsicums from my garden, a little hot but not too much, so I used those. Add soy sauce and lime juice (about two to one) and a tsp of coconut sugar (or other sugar).

Stir well, this is the marinade. I added a few leaves of Vietnamese mint and then fitted another bowl over the marinade, with a weight.

Like this. This way the vegetables get pressed and 'cook' in the marinade. Stir from time to time to make sure that all the veggies are well pressed. Leave for at least 3 hours.

In the meantime I prepared the 'sweet' ingredients to add to the salad, using what I had: a couple of grated carrots, a few boiled green beans and a fresh coconut. For the coconut, make a hole and drain the water, then break the coconut with a machete and scoop the flesh out with a spoon. Rinse well.

Before serving I added the carrots, beans and coconut to the marinated vegetables and stirred well. The contrast of textures and flavours made this salad very special, perfect to accompany soft tofu, but also good to dress hot noodles (so you don't waste all that yummy marinade).
Well, I hope this was interesting for you to read, of course you don't need coconut of tofu or anything fancy, carrots and/or cucumber can suffice, and if you don't have shallots use onions... the only things that are really essential in my opinion are lemon and/or lime juice and soy sauce, for the rest just improvise and you will be able to say that you ate a banana blossom too!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

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