Banana Buds aka Banana Blossoms are an underused item on American tables. It’s subtle sweetness is wonderful in salads, when mixed with fruit. This recipe is made with chicken, however, shrimp, complements the banana bud wonderfully as well. Due to its subtle flavor, I would not made this with red meat because it would overpower the flavor of the banana flower.
Fresh banana flowers can be found at Southeast Asian grocery markets in both Manhattan and Queens’ Chinatown, as well as Lanka Grocery (353 Victoria Blvd.), in the Sri Lankan enclave on Staten Island.
Chicken Banana Flower Salad
3/4 pound chicken thighs, skinless and boneless, cut into bite size pieces
Marinade ingredients-2 scallions, 1 lemongrass stalk, 1 inch ginger, 2 teaspoons chili paste, 2 teaspoons palm sugar, juice of 1/2 lime (or make it easy and just use 1 bottle – 1 tablespoon GTT Thai Spice Blend)
1 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons honey
1 Asian pear, peeled and chopped
1 English cucumber, split lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 jicama, grated
1 jalapeno, cored and minced
1/4 pineapple, cored and thinly sliced
1 banana flower-remove the tough outer leaves (reserve a few to serve), quartered and sliced
1 large handful of mint, finely chopped
1 large handful of cilantro, finely chopped
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
Season chicken with marinade ingredients, coarsely chopped or use Global Tastes & Travels’ Thai Spice Blend and save time shopping for all the ingredients. Leave for a minimum of 1 hour, but preferably overnight in refrigerator.
In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil. Stir fry chicken for about 10 minutes until cooked through. Add coconut milk and honey. Stir to combine. Let cool.
While chicken is cooling, prepare the vegetables, fruit and herbs for the salad.
Once chicken is cool, toss with all the vegetables, fruit and herbs. Add salt to taste.
Deep fry shrimp crackers in peanut oil.
To serve, place salad in banana flower leaf. Garnish with herbs and toasted sesame seeds. Serve with shrimp crackers.
It is best if the salad is left for a few hours for flavors to develop, before serving. This salad can be eaten at room temperature or cold.
If you can’t find fresh banana flowers, they can be found canned in most Asian markets, and even some gourmet markets. You can order them, along with many other Thai ingredients, online here. If you live in Ohio, you can find everything at Jungle Jim’s.