Banana Flower and Bamboo Shoot Salad with Southeastern Asian Flavors

I was shopping in Chinatown the other day and spotted some banana flowers (unusual find!). I’ve never had them before, as they are not a common ingredient in Shanghainese cuisine at all (I’m from shanghai!). So I knew that I had to get them.

I got home and the question became: how do I eat this? They look, although very stunning, completely “inedible” and remind me of an artichoke. I did some research and thanks to this YouTube video, I was able to process it successfully to reveal its edible parts. Note that soaking it in lime water to get rid of the astringent/bitter flavor and to prevent oxidation is very important!

The banana flower is actually very similar to a bamboo shoot, both in texture and taste (and sexiness). So I decided to put them together for this summery, pungent, cooling salad.

Upon further research, I realize that banana flowers are very common in Southeast Asia, including some parts of southern China. They are eaten raw as salad, cooked in soup or curry, or stir fried with other aromatic ingredients.  In fact, it’s medicinal function is also recognized in TCM:

  • It is sweet, cooling in nature.
  • It cools heat and liver fire.
  • It stops bleeding.
  • It helps lowering blood pressure and prevents stroke.

Bamboo shoot, on the other hand, is also a known medicinal ingredient:

  • It is sweet, slightly bitter, and cold in nature.
  • It clears heat and calms anxiety.
  • It benefits Qi and resolves heat phlegm. 
  • It removes food stagnation and helps with constipation. 

The two ingredients paired together makes a perfect dish for summer to reduce heat. No wonder it is popular in the hot and humid South-Eastern Asia.

If you don’t want to make it into a dish, you can just boil it in hot water and drink as tea. However, making it delicious and part of a meal is always the best way to incorporate it, I think! Hope you enjoy this recipe!

Written by Five Seasons TCM

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