I used to hate hate hate banana flowers and I honestly never thought one day it would become one of the things I miss when I’m away from home. I still remember the feeling when I first had it. It happened when my fam and I ate out at a Pad Thai restaurant. (Banana flower is one of the side dishes for Pad Thai and it is eaten raw) At that time, I was like Oooo what’s this, such a pretty color it has, it must be tasty and It was something new which I have always loved trying new things. Actually—anything that’s pretty and colorfully alluring has always attracted a kid like me. So I gave it a go. And, it was tasteless, disgusting, and unpleasantly harsh. It was just an unfriend taste to my tongue. My parents laughed at me and started telling me how beneficial it is to my health and how I will like it when I grow up. But, I was like about 10 years old. Who cares about health benefits? I was totally, stubbornly against it.
One day, my mom cooked it with chicken. I asked her what’s in it and she told me it’s simply a typical Thai coconut curry with chicken. I didn’t realize there were banana flowers in there until I told her how much I loved the dish and took a second, third and fourth serving. The curry was exactly how I like it to be. Hot, spicy, savory, with heaps of basils and thick coconut milk. I didn’t realize there were banana flowers in there because they were finely chopped and well mixed with shredded chicken, moreover the curry paste was homemade and the coconut milk was freshly made. My mom did a good job tricking me into eating it. It was literally, truly heaven in a bowl. From that day on, I would eat anything cooked with banana flowers. COOKED. I still don’t eat it alone. It has to be spiced if raw. Sorry mom, I still don’t eat it alone or with Pad Thai.
But, the dish of today is not curry but banana flower salad. In Thai it’s called “Yum Hua Plee” (ยำหัวปลี) Yum means spicy salad and Hua Plee is banana flower. My mom and I cooked this dish when I was back home in the winter break. It is my favorite and super simple.
Ingredients: 1 head banana flower, 1 cup of chopped roasted peanuts, 4 tablespoons of sugar, 4 tablespoon of roasted chili paste, 5-6 tablespoon of tamarind juice, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1/2 cup of undiluted coconut milk and 1/4 cup of fried chopped shallots.
Three first things that needed to be prepared and ready before everything else are roasted chili paste, chopped roasted peanuts and fried shallots. This is the link to how to make roasted chili paste. The fried chopped shallots: Slice the shallots finely and thin, heat up the wok or pan at medium high heat with a cup of oil per a cup of shallots, put the shallots in when the oil is hot, stir the shallot continuously and gently until it turns golden brown, take them out from the oil, drain them dry and leave until it’s cool. They should be crispy and slightly crunchy. Chopped roasted peanuts: I roasted them in the wok at low heat and then mash them with mortar and pestle.
Peel the head banana flower until it has only the white-yellow part.
Fill a big bowl with water, soak the tamarind and crush its pods until the water turns brown-ish. (Don’t use all of the tamarind. This is only for soaking the chopped banana flower. Soaking the banana flower with tamarind juice will help prevent the flower from turning black)
Make sure that chopped banana flowers are equally covered with tamarind juice.
This was a store bought roasted chili paste. According to the link to how to make it. In the video, she added dried shrimps which isn’t vegan obviously but what I used was vegan version. No shrimps. No animal product. My mom bought the vegan version specifically for me. So, if you are a vegetarian like me, just take the shrimp part off. It’s equally delish without shrimps.
Mix the roasted chili paste with undiluted coconut milk at medium heat.
Add sugar when the undiluted coconut milk and roasted chili paste is well mixed.
This is optional. This dish is usually cooked with shrimps which I substitute it with oyster mushrooms. And it is SO GOOD in this dish. Shred the mushrooms into thin slices.
Boil the mushroom until it’s cooked. In the picture, the mushrooms are yellow-ish is because on that day my mom made tamarind soup and she boiled the mushrooms in that soup.
Now, it’s time for seasoning the banana flower. Tips: The tamarind juice must be thick and dark brown, also it is better using warm water to juice it.
Simply mix all the ingredients together except the fried chopped shallots.
Simply sprinkle the fried chopped shallots on top
Hope you guys will enjoy this dish as much as I do 😉
Always, breakfast like a king.