I found this in a local Asian fruit and veg shop*. It is the flower or heart of the banana. As you peel off the artichoke-like leaves, you see a row of florets inside each leaf. This vegetable/flower is used in Filipino and Asian cooking but rarely served in restaurants because of the pfaff involved in preparation. The bit you use for cooking is the inner florets, but they must be cleaned.
When preparing the banana flower, wipe your knife and chopping board with lemon to prevent discolouration, as the banana blossom goes black very quickly. One video I saw suggested rubbing your hands with mustard oil (hot!) to stop your hands going black. It is possible to buy tinned banana flower heart and dried stamens already prepared for you.
- Peel off the leaves and remove the inner petals.
- Open the inner florets and remove the transparent plasticky petal inside
- Remove also the hard centre stalk, the stamen, inside.
- Put the florets in a bowl of water, with a little salt and either lemon or yoghurt.
- Eventually you will get to a pale green spear inner core from which you cannot peel any more leaves. Chop this finely and add it to the bowl of lemony water, leaving to soak for twenty minutes. Some cooks only use this part, sliced finely for a salad.
- The red leaves can be used for decoration or as mini vessels for the dish you create.
Recipes: Indian Banana flower and mustard seed curry
*Ashleys fruit and veg, a Sri Lankan grocers on Cricklewood Broadway