After my last experience with Indian bitter melon, I was a little nervous to experiment with my next ingredient. Just like the last time, I scoured the shelves of Berkeley Bowl, looking for something intriguing but not too intimidating. I settled on a purple, prehistoric-looking ingredient known as a banana flower.
The banana flower is also known as a banana blossom or heart, but frankly, I didn't even know banana trees had flowers. My preliminary research told me that it's an ingredient commonly used in Vietnamese and Thai cooking. It can be eaten raw or cooked, and it happens to be a great source of vitamins A and C. Banana flower also happens to be a common ingredient in Ayurvedic cooking, and it's believed to help heal menstrual pain (major bonus!).
As the outer leaves, or bracts, are pulled back, a row of long, black buds reveal themselves. I almost screamed after peeling back the first bract, because the buds were completely bizarre and off-putting. But the fact that those buds actually turn into bananas put me at ease. Once I pulled off enough bracts, I was left with a tender white heart, ready to be sliced up. To find out what I did with this strange ingredient, keep reading.
After my last experience with Indian bitter melon, I was a little nervous to experiment with my next ingredient.