Monday, September 25, 2017

Banana blossom salad: a healthier choice

Last week’s recipe was Mexican-inspired. Now we are back in the Asian kitchen with my mum as inspiration. She often cooks banana blossoms and dried shrimp curry and it’s one of my favourite meals.

When I moved to Sydney, I discovered a new-found love for banana blossoms, which were a popular ingredient used in salads at the many Thai restaurants there. They give a different texture and very fresh taste to a meal. Since then, I have loved banana blossom salad and it’s one of the regular dishes I order at Thai restaurants.

When I came back to Myanmar, I was thinking of making banana blossoms salads all the time. They are everywhere and just inviting me to pick them up. Finally I did, as I didn’t want to cook in this weather. The heat makes me want to eat something light and fresh.

Banana blossoms have a nice crunchy texture, but they need strong flavours like sweet and sour dressing. It’s easy to find at the markets or supermarkets. In Myanmar, it’s called hnetpyawphu. The recipe for the Myanmar banana blossom curry will come later, but first you can get a taste for the other Asian-style salads.

Thai-style banana blossoms salad ingredients

2 small banana blossoms
6-8 medium-sized prawns
2 onions (thinly sliced)
¼ cup of coriander (chopped)
½ red long chilli (optional)
1 tablespoon of fried onions
2½ tablespoon of dried shrimp
2½ tablespoons of grated jaggery (white ones)
1/3 cup of fresh lime juice
1/3 cup of fish sauce
1 teaspoon of chilli oil
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

Preparation of the banana blossoms

Peel off the red dark leaves from the banana blossoms until you get to the light yellow creamy colour. Discard the entire little banana between the leaves, but reserve a couple of nice and beautiful reddish leaves to use as cups.

Before cutting the banana blossoms, prepare the acidic water to prevent it from colouring the blossoms. Prepare 1 litre of water with ¼ cup of fresh lime juice. Then slice the banana blossoms thinly and cover with water until you are ready to make the salad.

Preparation

Peel the shell from the prawns and discard the black vine from the back. Keep the tail attached. Wash and drain well. Then heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the prawns for 2-3 minutes.

Prepare the chilli oil with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons of chilli flakes – use small chilli flakes. Go for nga yoke thee ahkyenthemote at the market.

Heat the oil in a pan until it’s really hot, then turn the heat down low and fry the chilli flakes quickly. Turn the heat off almost immediately. Let the oil cool down. You can store the rest of the oil in a jar, it can be used for up to a month.

For the dressing, grate the jaggery finely or chop them. Dissolve them in lime juice then add fish sauce and set a side.

Squeeze the banana blossoms gently to drain excess water and add into a big bowl. Add the prawns, dried shrimps, chilli, sliced onions and chopped coriander, and toss with dressing.

Lay a couple of leaves on the plate and put the salad on them to serve. Garnish with fried onions. You can spice up the salad with extra lime juice, fish sauce, jaggery or chilli to get the exact sweet, sour and spicy balance for you.