Monday 22 March 2010

gỏi mực bắp chuối (banana blossom & squid salad)

This recipe was part of a big Vietnamese feast I made in 2009.

I cooked up a storm using a beautiful cookbook by a Vietnamese- Australian family who run some very famous restaurants in Sydney.

Their food in the restaurants is fresh and exquisite, the flavours actually dancing on your tongue, and their cookbook truly helps you relive those memories at home.

This recipe is a combination of two separate recipes, but I wanted to combine squid and banana blossom so this was the result: tangy, spicy and fresh.

Gỏi Mực Bắp Chuối (Vietnamese Banana Blossom & Squid Salad)
Combination of two recipes from Secrets of The Red Lantern.
Serves 2 as main or 6 as part of banquet.

1 calamari tube, sliced into strips
Juice of 2 limes
1 banana blossom
1 small handful Vietnamese mint, roughly chopped
1 small handful coriander, roughly chopped
1 spring onion (scallion), finely sliced
2-3 tablespoons Nước Mắm Chấm (dipping fish sauce)
1 tablespoon roasted peanuts, chopped
2 tablespoons deep fried shallots
1 birds eye chilli, finely sliced
White vinegar, for soaking
1. In a small bowl, add the squid strips to the lime and allow to marinate for 1 hour.
2. Fill a bowl with water and add 2-3 tablespoons of cheap white vinegar. This water will prevent the banana blossom from oxidising and turning dark brown.
3. Remove the dark, tough outer leaves of the banana blossom to reveal tender white leaves inside. Quickly slice, then immediately immerse in the acidulated water to prevent oxidisation.
4. Cook the squid over a very hot griddle until tender (2-5 minutes).
5. Combine the squid, banana blossom, Vietnamese mint, coriander, scallion, nước mắm chấm, chilli and roasted peanuts. Toss salad well.
6. Top with deep fried shallots and serve immediately.

The banana blossom is the gorgeous, crimson, tapered bud at the end of a cluster of bananas.

The petals (or bracts) are tightly wrapped and purple-red, concealing rows of frilly male flowers and a pale, tender heart that is eaten as a vegetable. It can be boiled or stewed, often in coconut milk, or it’s served thinly sliced into salads.

The blossom is slightly astringent, like banana peels, so when raw it’s best served thinly sliced and in spicy-sweet-sour sauces, such as this recipe.

The red bracts are so pretty cleaned and used to serve the final dish.

The banana blossom is my Weekend Herb Blogging ingredient, this week hosted by Graziana from Erbe in Cucina. Be sure to visit her blog to read the round-up.

Other recipes from the internet:
Banana Blossom Curry
Banana Blossom Salad w Chicken & Asian Pears
Banana Flower Vadai (patties)
Filipino-Style Banana Blossoms in Coconut Milk
Banana Heart Salad
Banana Blossom Stir Fry
Prawn & Banana Blossom Salad
Spicy Banana Blossoms


  1. I just had some banana blossom at home and have no idea of what to do with them until now!
    Thank you for joining to Weekend Herb Blogging

  2. The Secrets of The Red Lantern is indeed a gorgeous book and I love the stories they tell in between! This salad looks delicious.

  3. I love banana blossom salad but I think mostly it's mostly because of the name - such a beautiful sounding dish thankfuly matched by the tastiness of the dish.

    I was fascinated by the stories the unfolded in Secrets of the Red Lantern - such an inspiring tale that is no doubt common to so many first-generation immigrants in Australia.

  4. I'd love to try that! I wonder if we can even get banana blossoms here....


  5. This looks like such an interesting recipe! I've always wanted to try banana blossoms but have been resistant. I love the idea of combining it with squid!

  6. I adore banana flower salad! Not all Thai or Vietnamese restaurants have it though so when I see it, I always order it. Is the actual banana flower hard to get?
    Btw it was great to catch up last night! :D

  7. graziana - that is good timing! let me know what you do with them in the end.

    trissa - the stories made me ball like a baby. it's more than just a cookbook.

    helen - so true about first gen immigrants. a lot of my friends are experiencing the same things as the nguyen kids do, being torn between two cultures. i'm lucky my dad's american so there's not (too much of) a culture clash!

    ejm - hmmm? toronto? not sure. where ever there are banana trees there are always banana blossoms, i know that much. i found one growing outside my friend's house recently and suggested we get a machete and hack it off. my friend declined. she probably wasn't too keen to be running through the streets with a giant knife.

    cynthia - i warn you banana blossoms do have a strange squeaky texture, but you should try it. you might be pleasantly surprised.

    lorraine - it was great to catch up last night. so much chocolate! i found the banana flowers all over cabramatta, but i've seen one or two in china town in the city as well.

  8. I have tried frying the banana blossom and adding herbs and spices on it while preparing. I made a patty out of banana blossom and it was good. Banana blossom is really good, it is has good source of potassium, all you need to do is to update you kitchen cabinets and organize a new spice rack.


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