How to Prepare Banana Flower for Cooking

Banana Flower Crash Course: How to Prepare Banana Flower for Cooking

Banana flowers (also known as banana blossoms) are a staple in Cambodia cuisine, particularly in countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. You’ll see the flower at the end of a cluster of bananas. It is teardrop-shaped and has layers of dark purple outer leaves. Inside the leaves are yellowish, baby bananas that will eventually develop into bananas if left to grow. I’ve had banana flower many times, mostly in salads, but I had no idea how to prepare it until Linda from Meas Family Homestay showed me how it’s done.

After removing the outer leaves, the banana flower will turn brown when in contact with the air, just like bananas do, but the process is faster for the flower, so make sure you wait to remove the outer leaves until just before you need to use the flower.

Before you start cutting the banana flower, prepare a bowl of water mixed with fresh lime juice. This acidic bath is crucial as it prevents the flower from turning dark brown after slicing. The citric acid in the lime juice slows down the oxidation process, keeping your banana flower looking fresh and appetizing.

Begin by removing the outer leaves of the banana flower. These outer layers are tough and not suitable for cooking. As you peel away the leaves, you’ll notice small “banana babies” tucked between them. These baby bananas are edible, but there’s a catch. Inside each one, there’s a small sprout which is very bitter. Make sure to remove these sprouts before proceeding.

Once you have peeled away the outer layers and removed the bitter sprouts from the baby bananas, it’s time to slice the banana flower. Use a sharp knife to cut it into thin slices. Remember, the flower will start browning almost immediately after cutting, so work quickly and efficiently. As soon as you slice the banana flower, immerse the pieces into the bowl of lime water. This immediate soaking is vital to keep the slices from turning brown. Ensure that all the slices are submerged properly to maintain their color and freshness.

Now that your banana flower is prepped and soaked, it’s ready to be used in your recipes. Banana flowers can be used in a variety of dishes, from salads to curries, adding a unique texture and flavor that’s both delicious and nutritious. I really like salads with banana flower, such as the Cambodian Beef Salad that Linda also makes:

Recipe: Cambodian Beef Salad with Banana Flower >>

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