The banana flower, an exotic ingredient very much in vogue in Asian cuisine, is the new vegan superfood, also appreciated in the West and often used as a substitute for fish
In restaurants, both Western and Eastern, i flowers to eat they are used less and less as a decorative element and increasingly as a main ingredient in dishes. An example is the banana flower, food already very popular in Asian cuisine and currently very appreciated by local and European chefs, as new vegan food trend. This splendid and tasty flower has in fact a fleshy consistency similar to that of fish and, like jackfruit, lends itself well to original salads and second vegan dishes.
Because the banana flower is the new vegan superfood
In recent years we have witnessed a succession of vegetable ingredients that, thanks to their characteristics, nutritional properties or versatility in the kitchen, have become popular "superfood" alternatives to meat and fish. To top the podium of international vegan superfoods, after shitake mushrooms, avocado and jackfruit, are now banana flowers, an ingredient used for centuries in the cuisine of Southeast Asia. These flowers are indeed experiencing a moment of great rediscovery in Asia and they are making their appearance also in European kitchens, in particular in those of the United Kingdom. Banana flowers, also called mocha or hearts or banana buds, grow at the ends of the banana heads, have a deep purple color, a teardrop shape reminiscent of artichokes and a slightly bitter taste reminiscent of bitter courgettes or, indeed, artichokes. The external flower is crunchy, ideal to eat raw in exotic spicy salads, while the inner part, softer and more crumbly, remembers the consistency of the fish and is therefore perfect for appetizers or second vegan dishes. From a nutritional point of view the banana flower is not particularly proteinic, a factor to keep in mind if one wants to integrate it into a vegan or vegetarian diet, but it represents a rich source of fibers food and vitamins A, C and E.
Banana blossom mania: uses in the kitchen and recipes
This versatile, relatively inexpensive and delicious vegetable food is therefore used in a wide variety of dishes, from gourmet recipes to fast and tasty preparations, perfect for street food. In the raw version the banana flower is particularly known in Thailand, where it is used for a exotic pinzimonio accompanied by a creamy and citrusy sauce made from coconut milk, or inside rich salads which the yum hua plee, a spicy salad with raw banana flowers cut into thin slices. The heart can instead be boiled, grilled, stewed or fried, and therefore used in the most disparate recipes, from first courses with noodle or rice to rich soups, to exotic second courses as a meat or fish substitute.
For original vegan preparations you can for example take inspiration from delicious indian curry, perhaps to combine with potatoes or legumes, or, avoiding the ingredients of animal origin, from the Philippine stew kare kare, a recipe based on vegetables such as green beans and Chinese cabbage and seasoned with a delicious sauce made with ground peanuts and various aromas. Thanks to the fibrous consistency of the inside of the banana flower, it is also possible to chop this ingredient and use it in pancakes, as they do in South India and Sri Lanka, or for originals spicy vegan kofta.
In Europe, banana flowers are very popular also in fried version, often marinated in kombu and samphire seaweed so as to have a taste similar to that of fish. Very popular, for example, in England on fish and chips vegan of the Sutton and Sons chip shop in London.
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