Vietnamese Banana Flower Salad
Serves two as main dishes.
Kelly Hailstone / Heavy Table
1 tablespoon nuoc mam (fish sauce)
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 skinless boneless chicken breast, cooked and finely sliced
1 skinless boneless pork chop, cooked and finely sliced
1 ½ teaspoons dried red pepper flakes or 1 finely chopped chili
1 cup bean sprouts
1 big handful mint and basil, coarsely chopped
¼ cup chopped peanuts
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 oranges, sliced into thin wedges, pith and skin removed
1 fresh banana flower
1 lemon (for water mixture)
Combine first eight ingredients in a large bowl. Prepare banana flower according to instructions above, discarding undeveloped baby bananas. As you peel, try to keep leaves as whole as possible. Reserve the lemon water in another medium-sized bowl. Once the leaves are rinsed, stack several on top of one another and slice them crosswise into thin strips. To keep the leaves from turning black, place immediately in the lemon water, turning occasionally. You will have a heaping double handful of sliced banana flower. Let the sliced flower soak in the lemon water for 30 minutes.
Rinse the flower in a colander under running water until the water runs clear. Drain the banana flower and toss it with other ingredients which have been marinating in the large bowl. Sprinkle with the peanuts, oranges, and sesame seeds.
Banana flowers also are available in preserved form and can be used in many recipes to reduce prep time. Soak the dried flowers in cold water for ten minutes and rinse.