Every banana flower we come across on our treks and hikes have a big giant golden orb weaver spider guarding it. Huge ones, they can grow up to 20cm across. Non toxic as they may be, we don’t venture off the path wherever there’s banana trees around… The bite still hurts. I’m in the habit of carrying a plastic bag and neither scissors or a little knife with me when we’re out, as you never know what you might find! The banana blossoms just slap off if you use a little force, but for cacti – a knife is good! This particular blossom grew close to the path and we checked carefully for spiders around it.
They eat banana blossom in Thailand and Vietnam but I have never tried it in a restaurant. This is my version of a green papaya and banana blossom salad – it’s great with squid or juicy prawns. I have made this before with ripe papaya and that’s delicious too, but this time I found green papaya in the supermarket here so thought I would try it. Green papaya is really lovely, doesn’t taste of much but with the dressing it’s really quite nice and crunchy.
Previously I have fried the banana flower but this time I steamed it in a little water and salt. The flesh oxidises straight away so need to go straight into the water after slicing. The outer leaves are very fibrous so I peel those away and use as little boaty plates for serving. You only want to use the soft white heart of the flower.
The salad can sit for a a little while and let the flavours merge. I fried the tiger prawns in coconut fat and garlic. These were fresh farmed from the Philippines. I matchsticks the green papaya and mixed it with coriander and a made a dressing from lime juice, fish sauce, soy, grated garlic, ginger, chili and honey.
Exploring through food is one of the best things I know. To me, cooking is super recreational and very creative. It’s my space where I explore freely, like meditation. It’s my blank canvas where flavours are my colours and when I’m done – there’s (hopefully) an instant reward in form of a delicious meal.
- fresh banana blossom
- green papaya
- fish sauce
- light soy