In case you were wondering, banana flowers really are the flowers of the banana plant. They are also known as banana blossoms or banana hearts. The taste is reminiscent of artichoke hearts. They are consumed throughout Southeast Asia and also in India as well. In fact, I bought the banana flowers I used in this dish from an Indian market.
Gỏi bắp chuối chay literally means vegetarian banana flower salad in Vietnamese. It’s a popular dish in the Buddhist community where many recipes, due to dietary restrictions requiring vegetarianism, are made to simulate meat. Banana flower salad is thought to imitate the flavor of gỏi gà, Vietnamese chicken salad. Other recipes use ingredients such as tofu skin or fried soy gluten that are chewy and resemble the stringy texture of meat.
This is a dish that is not only exotic but tasty as well. You might not make it every day, but it’s definitely something you should try.
1. Info for Banana Flower Salad (Goi Bap Chuoi Chay)
- Cook Time: 40 mins
- Total Time: 1 hr 20 mins
- Servings: 6
- Calories: 120kcal
2. Ingredients for Banana Flower Salad (Goi Bap Chuoi Chay)
- 3 banana flowers (see tips)
- 2 lemons
- 1 lime
- 1 shallot
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup canned straw mushrooms in water, drained and sliced lengthwise
- 1/4 cup peanuts
- 1 (1-inch) chunk ginger
- 2 cloves pickled garlic, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon mushroom seasoning salt
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 1 tablespoon Vietnamese mint, chopped
- 1 tablespoon Thai basil, chopped
- 1 tablespoon sugar cane vinegar (or more lime juice)
- 1 tablespoon rau răm (see tips), chopped
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh coconut (optional), freshly grated
- 1 red Thai bird chili, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 drizzle toasted sesame oil (optional)
- Steaming the banana flower: Fill a pot filled with water and bring it to a boil. Add salt and the juice of 2 lemons. Add the halved banana flowers. Bring back to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. Cook for about 30-40 minutes until tender. Remove them for the water and let cool a bit until you can handle them without discomfort. Cut them into little shreds. Set aside. Drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of lime juice.
- Peanuts: In a mortar and pestle, slightly crush the peanuts. You still want to have visible pieces of peanuts for a crunchy texture.
- Gỏi sauce: In a bowl, combine the rest of the lime juice, sugar cane vinegar, mushroom seasoning salt, pickled garlic, ginger paste, the remaining brown sugar, soy sauce and the canola oil. Mix well.
- Assembly time: In a large bowl, combine the shredded banana flower, the straw mushrooms, fresh coconut, red Thai chili and pickled shallot with its macerating liquid. When you’re ready to serve, drizzle the gỏi sauce. Add all the chopped herbs. Toss well. Season with more salt -if needed and white pepper. Sprinkle the peanuts. Finish with sesame oil.
- Serve immediately.
- Eat with chopsticks and enjoy!