Blooming Delicious: Banana Flower Stirfry
There's more than just bananas to harvest on a banana tree. As I discovered when I made my banana flower stir fry, it's a lot of work to take apart the banana flower and remove the edible florets. But, they are pretty tasty, so I'm just glad that it takes about six months for banana flowers to appear on trees. - depending on the maturity and type of banana plant you are growing. There are also supposedly numerous health benefits to eating the banana flower such as controlling diabetes, remedies digestive issues, high vitamin C content that slows the aging process, to name just a few.
I won't go into the nitty gritty of the steps since there are numerous videos that provide detailed explanations, but here are the basics. Firstly, have large trays set down or some sort of paper so the sap from the leaves and flowers don't doesn't stick to everything. I tried the tip about putting oil on your hands to prevent your hands from getting sticky, but it only worked until the oil wore off, so maybe have some oil in a dish so you can reapply during the lengthy process of preparing the banana blossom for cooking.
The pinkish red blossom is cut off the tree (at a specific angle) and the leaves (bracht) peeled back and removed. Under each bracht are a series of flowers which need to be opened to remove the stamen (which looks like a matchstick with a yellow top) and the purplish outer shield (calyx) of each flower. The flowers should be ready to eat. It's a lot of work because each leaf has a set of flowers. Some people just peel off the leaves to reach the white banana flower (like peeling an artichoke to get to the heart) that can be sliced to make salads, or cooked in soup or stir fries. I did not use our banana flower because it was a bit sour -- possibly because we waited too long to pick it.
I simply took the florets and added them to a pan where I had lightly fried garlic, ginger, onions and fresh spinach leaves. A splash of soy or fish sauce and rice vinegar were the final touches, before I ate it with steamed brown rice. A clean and healthy dish to reward me for a long, tedious process.
If you like to use what you have, this is a great way to use up all the banana tree -- and have some banana flower leaf dishes to use for a serving dish or something crafty. This is also a great activity if you want kids to get involved in preparing dinner.
If you've tried this or want to try this, leave me a comment. Also, please leave a comment if you have a recipe or tips to share.
Here's a step by step with beautiful photos showing how to prepare a banana blossom.
Here's a clear video making it look pretty simple.