The banana flower, also known as the banana blossom or, directly translated from Malay, the heart of the banana (jantung pisang), tastes slightly like artichokes. It’s quite exotic, in my opinion, and I love it raw as a salad (kerabu). I have cooked it once and made it into a Fish Laksa broth, once, with coconut milk and spices, and it was excellent.
Below is a picture of a banana flower, still attached to a banana tree, that I took in 2008 while I was in Malaysia.
It looks daunting, at first, but I will show you how to prepare banana blossoms/flower/heart from scratch.
What you will need:
- 2 big bowls filled with water and lemon/lime juice.
- A sharp knife
- A chopping board
- Remove the big pink leaves, and save the tiny flower buds. Keep removing the outer layers until you can’t remove any leaves anymore, and until you reach the white heart piece.
- Soak the softer, light pink and white leaves, and tiny flower buds in a big bowl of water with lemon juice. This will stop it from turning black. I usually save the big, hard, bright pink leaves to use as decoration, and discard them later.
- Remove the leaves from the bowl, and slice them thinly into strips, and soak them in another big bowl of water with lemon/lime juice. Wash thoroughly, to remove the slimy liquid that appears as you cut into it. Do the same to the banana heart and discard the hard stem. Leave them in the bowl of water.
- Now to prepare the tiny flower buds. The flower bud will have a stem, and a hard plastic-like petal. Both will need to be removed.
- The hard petal can be found as you open the flower slightly and it will be sticking out at the bottom half of the bud.
- And the stem is shown below – be careful when pulling it out, as it may break. It is very hard and plastic-like.
- The cleaned flower buds can be soaked in the lemon water. You can slice them into smaller pieces, too. Since there are a lot of the tiny flower buds, you may find this quite monotonous and boring, and you may be tempted to just go “eh, it’s ok, I won’t bother with the stem and petal” – but trust me, I did that once and nearly ended up choking on the plastic-like hard stem.
- Rinse the sliced banana blossom to rid off the slime and lemon, and now its ready to use.