The versatility of bananas and banana trees
The entire banana tree has numerous useful parts. Its leaves are used for wrapping food that needs to be cooked in an open flame. In order to cook with banana leaves, you must choose fresh green leaves. Anything that is wrapped will not scorch, and since the banana leaves will not flavor the food inside, it is the best alternative to aluminum foil that is also eco-friendly. The banana leaves are also used as plates or table covering, or as lunch boxes where cooked meals are wrapped and carried.
The bananas, of course, are eaten raw and cooked. Most Southeast Asian counties have their own versions of desserts and savory dishes cooked with banana as a vital ingredient. In this article, we will highlight the Saba Banana, which is a cooking banana native to the Philippines. This banana is used in many dishes and can be found in most Asian groceries. This banana is robust, short, and stout. It is ready to be cooked once its peel turns yellow, still firm to the touch but not too hard.
The banana blossom is also another key ingredient in Southeast Asian cooking.
While the banana tree trunk is used as hog or animal feed, so no part of the banana and banana tree is ever wasted. The banana is genuinely a wonder plant that is prolific, robust, fast-growing, and versatile.
Banana blosssom/ heart
Banana blossom, also known as a “banana heart,” is the tender, edible blossom that is widely used in Southeast Asian cuisine. It comes from the banana tree but does not taste anything like a banana. They are a teardrop shape with a purple/ reddish outer covering. The banana heart is fleshy, soft, but with a bit of crunch. In recent years, the banana blossom has been used as a meat replacement for fish. Thus, making it a go-to ingredient for vegan dishes. Also, the banana blossom is an alkaline food which effectively neutralizes the stomach acid secretions and helps with digestion. In this article, we will feature recipes that not only highlight the banana fruit but the blossom as well.
Banana Heart/ Blossom
Pork Sinigang ( Sour Soup) with Banana Blossom
Sour based soups are an everyday staple for all Filipino households. It is not only a quick and easy dish to make, but it is also something that only gets better after it is reheated. The easiest way to make this dish is with a powdered instant tamarind mix but several other souring agents can also be used such as real tamarind fruit, kamias or tree cucumber. Banana blossom is something that can be added to this dish to add more dimension and flavor.
- 1 lb pork ribs
- 2 pieces eggplants sliced
- 1 medium radish sliced
- 3 pieces medium tomatoes quartered
- 3 pieces long green chili
- 1 pack tamarind base powder
- banana blossom cut into 2 inch pieces crosswise
- 3 cups bok choy, cut into 1 inch lengths
- 1 onion diced
- 4 okra
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 6 cups of water
1.Place water in a pot, add the ribs.
2. Add tomatoes, and onion, fish sauce, tomatoes, and banana blossom. Cover and let it simmer until the ribs are tender.
3. Add the radish, okra, green chili. Simmer for about 3 minutes.
4. Add the tamarind powder. Stir.
5. Add the boy choy and turn off the heat.
6. Place in a deep bowl. Best served with rice.
Pochero is a popular Filipino dish. Most families have their version of this dish, but it would always include ripe plantains or saba bananas. It is a staple at family gatherings, and recipes are passed from one generation to the next. This is a hearty meal that is best eaten with rice.
- 1 lb pork belly chopped
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 1 cup chickpeas
- 1 large saba banana ripe, cut into 3
- 1 potato cut into cubes
- 1 small cabbage quartered
- 1/4 lb long green beans
- 1 bundle bok choy
- 2 tomatoes diced
- 1 Tbsp whole peppercorn
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce
- In a large pot, heat coconut oil.
- Sauté garlic, onions, and tomatoes
- Add pork and cook until the color turns light brown. Stirring from time to time.
- Add fish sauce, peppercorn, and tomato sauce.
- Add water and let boil. Simmer the pork until tender about 40 minutes
- Add cubed potato, saba bananas, and chickpeas. Cook for 7 minutes
- Add cabbage and long green beans. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the bok choy. Cover the pot
- Turn off the heat.
Bulalo/ Beef Shank an Marrow Soup
Bulalo is a beef soup dish that incorporates the goodness of beef shank together with the richness of beef marrow. The resulting broth is light in color but is rich and meaty. The longer the dish is allowed to simmer, the more flavorful it gets. Vegetables are added to this dish, and as a special touch, saba bananas are also included. The bananas cut through the savory flavor with a bit of sweetness.
- 2 lbs beef shank
- ½ pc small cabbage whole leaf individually detached
- 1 bundle bok choy
- 3 pcs corn each cut into 3 parts
- 2 tbsp whole peppercorn
- 1/2 cup green onions
- 1 medium-sized onion
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 3 saba bananas cut into wedges
1. Bring water to a boil in a big cooking pot.
2. Add the beef shank, followed by the onion and whole peppercorns. Simmer for 1.5 hours or 30 mins if using a pressure cooker.
3. Add the corn and simmer for another 12 minutes.
4. Add the fish sauce, cabbage, bok choy, and green onion, and bananas.
5.Place in a deep bowl and serve hot.
Pork in Coconut Milk with Banana Blossom
Filipino dishes are well known for incorporating coconut milk in much of its dishes as well as desserts. Since the country is a prime grower of both coconuts and bananas, it is not surprising to see that much of its cuisine uses these ingredients in many ways.
- 1 1/2 cups banana blossom sliced and cleaned
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 lb pork belly cubed
- 5 pieces Thai chili pepper
- 1 piece onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 3 Tbsp fish sauce
- In a pan, add cooking oil, garlic, and onion. Sautee until onion turns translucent.
- Add pork and let cook for about 5 minutes while stirring from time to time.
- Add the coconut milk and let it simmer until the pork is tender.
- Add the fish sauce and chilis, and the banana blossom.
- Add ground black pepper.
- Transfer to a boil. Best served with rice.
- You can add some caramelized onions on top for extra flavor.
Turon is probably one of the most popular desserts that can be found throughout the entire Philippine archipelago. It is a sweet and crunchy dessert. It will satisfy any sweet tooth's sugar craving. It can be prepared in about 15 to 20 minutes. Try to bring this to a party or outdoor barbeque and give everyone a surprising dessert in a crunchy little package.
- 6 pieces bananas
- 1 cup jackfruit ripe, sliced into strips
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 12 pieces lumpia/ rice flour spring roll wrapper
- 2 cups cooking oil
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
1. Peel the bananas and cut lengthwise.
.2. Place the lumpia wrapper on a flat surface. Roll 2 pieces of banana in brown sugar before placing them on the lumpia wrapper, end to tip.
4. Place 2 to 4 strips od jackfruit beside the bananas.
5. Roll the lumpia wrapper while folding the sides to keep it a tight roll.Dab the ends with water to seal the turon.
6. In a wok, heat your oil until bubbles appear. Place the turon in the oil. Cook the turon for about 7 minutes, flipping on both sides.
7. Remove and drain.
8. In a separate wok, dissolve brown sugar in water. Stirring until a little bit thick.
9. Turn off the heat. Add the turon on the caramel mixture and use two frying spoons, toss the turon vigorously, incorporating the sugar (just like tossing salad.) Do not allow the turon to stick together.
10. Sprinkle a generous amount of sesame seeds on top. The turon should remain crunchy for at least 2 days.
11. Serve warm.
Banana Que / Sugar Coated Bananas on a stick
Banana Que is a streetfood essential in the Philippines. A visit to the islands will never be complete without tasting this sugarcoated deep-fried fritter. If you would like to bring the taste of the tropics home, try this recipe. It is easy to make and only takes about 5 to 7 minutes.
- 6 pieces saba bananas
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 4 cups coconut oil
1. Peel the bananas
2. Roll the bananas in brown sugar
3. In a wok or deep pan, heat the oil until small bubbles are seen
4. Gently place the bananas in the wok, allow each side to cook, or until the sugar is semi-melted ( you can still see sugar granules but are now fused). You can add more sugar into the pan if you want the bananas to be fully coated.
5. Move the bananas around and flip from time to time to allow the banana to be fully coated in sugar on both sides. It takes about 5 to 7 minutes to cook the bananas.
6. With your tongs, remove and drain.
7. Using a sizeable bamboo skewer, insert down the middle of the banana. Two bananas on one stick
8. Best served hot or warm.
Bananas in Syrup ala Mode.
This is a wonderful and refreshing dessert! It is light and easy to prepare. It does not require a lot of ingredients and can be cooked in about 8 minutes. You can pop this in the ref and enjoy it anytime.
- 4 pieces saba banana
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- Pour water in a saucepan.
- Dissolve the brown sugar in the water
- Add vanilla extract. Keep stirring.
- Add salt
- Add the bananas and cook to a boil.
- Remove from the pan. Let cool.
- Place 2 bananas in a dish, add a few teaspoons of the syrup and add vanilla ice cream on top and other toppings you might want to add.
You can replace the ice cream with crushed ice. Milk can also be added on top of the ice.