Malaysian cuisine is an amalgamation of many different cultures and food is a major part of their culture with a uniqueness of its own. It has many local ingredients that are widely used in making authentic dishes. Since Malaysia is located just below Southern Thailand it also draws some culinary inspiration from the cuisine and Malaysia being a tropical country, salads are consumed often. There are numerous health benefits of Banana flowers and they are extensively used in the Malaysian cuisine to prepare a range of salads and curries. It is also widely used in Thai cuisine in a number of dishes like Pad Thai with Banana Blossoms, Thai-Style Spicy Chicken, Banana Blossom and Herb Salad etc.
So what exactly is a Banana Flower?
Banana flower is called Jantung Pisang in Malay and it is the blossom from the banana plant hanging at the end of the cluster of bananas. It is usually purple or pinkish in colour and consists of many layers of bracts with rows of yellow florets lying in between the bracts. It has a stamen with a black and hard stigma at the end. The banana flower is the male part hanging at the end of the clusters of bananas.
Where can you find it?
You can find the ubiquitous banana flowers and the banana leaves in most of the Asian markets or Asian grocery store. You can also find the canned version in some of the Asian grocery store.
How to use banana flowers?
While using banana blossoms it is important to remember that they oxidise very quickly, whether you use it fresh or frozen and this will result in changing the flavour of the dish or becomes bitter.
However, you can squeeze some lime juice over the layers to prevent it from turning dark, but it is advisable to use it the same day when you chop it.
In some recipes, you are required to peel the outer mini petals and the stigmas from the florets one after the other.
You could also peel off some outer bracts to be used as a serving dish, but make sure you wash the bracts and dry them.
Then you can steam, grill or cook the whole blossom for at least 30 minutes until the outer bracts are charred. Once it cools, peel the fibrous bracts retaining the tender bracts and the heart of the flower, which looks like an artichoke.
Malaysian Dishes using Banana flowers
Jantung Pisang or banana flower can be used to make a host of dishes but it is most commonly used in making salads.
It is also cooked and served with rice as a curry along with Sambal and also used to make stews . One of the popular salads made with banana flowers is the Kerabu Jantung Pisang, made with banana flowers, coconut and prawns.
5 Health benefits of banana flowers:
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