28 January 2014
Supermarkets of Mystery ~ Tinned Banana Blossom in Brine
This supermarkets of mystery is brought to you by canned banana blossoms in brine. Fresh blossoms in a salad is delicious, but what do you do with tinned ones? Would they taste as good? These ones are from Thailand, made by the Aroy-D company who also make a number of tinned fruits. Inexpensive at around $1.60 a tin, they seemed a good punt for a food adventure.
Banana Blossoms can be difficult to find fresh, they are sometimes in Pontip in Thai Town or at fresh vegetable grocers in Cabramatta but sourcing them can be a chore. Doing some research, they also seem difficult to prepare, lots of layers and tough outer skins to pull apart and keep soaked in salty water to remove the sap.
So tinned blossoms make a lot of sense when fresh is scarce. Once you open the tin, there are about three large pieces of blossom inside. The brine liquid they are packed in is quite tastless, not very salty at all. They're certainly not as pink as they seem when fresh, quite uninterestingly beige.
Stripping back the layers of skin, there are little tendrils of infant flowers. The skin is soft and the core is not hard like I expected. I imagined a crispness like pickled bamboo shoot.
The blossoms shred up nicely by hand, making some sizeable chunks. I wasn't sure if you were supposed to keep the slightly thicker skins, but they tasted the same as the inner heart so it didn't seem right to throw them away. Perhaps if you wanted a more refined dish you could discard them, but you might need to buy two tins to get the bulk.
So what to do with them? They are quite mild, almost tasteless. They certainly aren't a sweet fruit. Searching for a recipe I found this one from the Philippines that seemed right to eat with a prik khing style prawn curry (like a red curry with no coconut milk) I made at the same time. I use the Maesri paste for a quick cheat, those little colourful tins that come in most Thai curry styles. There's other recipes around for salads made with tinned blossoms that I might try as well.
The recipe was so simple, with a tangy flavour from the vinegar, creaminess from the coconut and heat from the green chillies. I used pickled green chillis as I didn't have fresh ones, and added a little of the pickle water as well. They worked really nicely.
The verdict? Fantastic. The two curries worked so well together, this one will become a regular in the Street Food household.
You can buy canned Banana Blossoms at most grocery stores that stock a variety of Asian products. Look for them in either the tinned fruit or vegetable section, they might be in either. One can was enough for two people, maybe two would be better for a bigger crowd or if you want to just eat the more delicate parts of the blossom.
Labels: supermarkets of mystery