A change of heart over banana blossoms


Don’t discard them, simply ‘fritter away’ the bud for a crispy treat

HAVE you ever seen a giant tulip-shaped purple bud among the herbs at the wet market and wondered how these banana blossoms are used for cooking?

Unfortunately, dishes made from banana hearts, also known as banana flowers, have been labelled as “peasant food” because this part of the plant usually gets discarded.

Prepare the batter using self-raising flour, rice flour and cornstarch.Prepare the batter using self-raising flour, rice flour and cornstarch.

My dad has been growing bananas for decades but gives the blossoms away because he doesn’t know how to prepare them.

The trick is in knowing which parts to keep and which to discard.

Discard the outer sepal and stigma before soaking in a mild vinegar-and-salt solution.Discard the outer sepal and stigma before soaking in a mild vinegar-and-salt solution.

Outer bracts that have shrivelled and discoloured have to be discarded.

Keep only the blossoms that are fresh and moist.

For this recipe, we are only using the blossoms, but the rest of the heart, where the bracts are white or light pink, is also edible.

From left: Coat the banana blossoms in the batter and set aside for about 30 minutes before dredging them in rice flour and frying. In small batches, fry the battered banana blossoms for about 5 minutes until light golden and crispy, then blot excess oil.From left: Coat the banana blossoms in the batter and set aside for about 30 minutes before dredging them in rice flour and frying. In small batches, fry the battered banana blossoms for about 5 minutes until light golden and crispy, then blot excess oil.

When preparing the blossoms, discard the black stigma and the white outer sepal.

To eliminate the bitterness, soak the blossoms in a mild solution of vinegar and salt to neutralise the alkali in the banana sap.

After marinating the blossoms in the flavoured batter, dredging them in rice flour not only helps separate each flower but also gives a nice crispy finish to the fritters.

Crispy banana heart fritters make a savoury snack that can be enjoyed when breaking fast. — Photos: YAP CHEE HONG/The StarCrispy banana heart fritters make a savoury snack that can be enjoyed when breaking fast. — Photos: YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

Fry in small batches so that the temperature of the oil isn’t lowered too much.

Each batch takes less than five minutes to cook, and the blossoms are done when they are crispy and take on a light golden hue.

I like to serve them in the banana bracts with a side of sweet chilli sauce or mayonnaise spiked with a bit of lemon juice.

Banana heart fritters

Ingredients

2 banana hearts

3 cups cooking oil for frying

½ cup rice flour for dredging

½ tsp salt

Batter

60g self-raising flour

20g rice flour

10g cornstarch

1 tsp meat curry powder

1 tsp salt

½ tsp sugar

½ tsp white pepper

½ cup cold water

1 tbsp cooking oil

Dip

Mayonnaise with a squeeze of lemon juice or sweet chilli sauce

Method

Remove the outer bracts of the banana hearts and discard any shrivelled and discoloured blossoms. Discard the bitter stigmas and sepals from each blossom.

Soak the blossoms in a salt-and-vinegar solution for 15 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Sift dry batter ingredients into a mixing bowl, then whisk in water and oil until combined.

Add banana blossoms into batter and stir until well coated, then set aside for about 30 minutes.

Heat oil in a deep pot for frying. When ready to fry, dredge battered blossoms in rice flour and immediately drop into hot oil to fry 5 minutes until crispy and light golden.

Blot excess oil using paper towels. Continue frying in small batches.

Salt to taste and serve immediately with lemon mayonnaise or sweet chilli sauce.

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Retro Recipe

   

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