Banana blossoms grow on the end of the stem holding a cluster of bananas, and its inner, pale-coloured leaves are considered a vegetable.
white vinegar or lemon juice
4 cups cold water
2 (1 ½ lbs) banana blossoms
1-6oz cooked chicken breast, finely shredded
¼ cup Thai basil leaves, finely cut
½ cup roasted Cashews or peanuts, crushed’
Simple Vietnamese Vinaigrette
3 tbsp fish sauce or soy sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar
3 tbsp cane sugar
2 cloves garlic, finely grated
1 Thai red chili pepper, seeds removed and finely minced (optional)
In a medium bowl, combine the water with the vinegar. Working with one banana blossom at a time, peel off and discard the tough, outer layers. Starting from the pointed end, cut the bulb crosswise into paper thin slices or use a mandolin with the thinnest setting. Immediately plunge the finely cut banana blossoms into the large bowl of acidulated water to prevent it from discolouring. When you reach the spot where you see the undeveloped bananas, begin peeling off the layers and place them in the water. When you are finished, place the loose petals on top of each other, then roll up the stack like a cigar and cut into paper-thin slices, placing them back into the water as you work. Repeat with the second banana blossom. Allow the cut banana blossom pieces to soak for at least 30 minutes before draining and drying pat with a tea towel.
While the blossoms are soaking, whisk together the fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and garlic in a medium bowl until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the red chili if using.
To assemble the salad, place the banana blossoms and chicken in a large bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over and toss until combined. Transfer onto a serving platter and garnish with Thai basil and nuts.