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Cooking with banana flower

How to cook with banana flower

My gaze fell onto a long table, just like all of the others in Taibesi Market, lined with piles on plates of plump and perky produce: tomatoes, limes, onions, bulbs of garlic, knotted knuckles of ginger…

Sandwiched in between some tomatoes and avocados were four deep purple buds that resembled the cone-shaped tips of paintbrushes. Each were about 8-10 inches long from end to end and about 6 inches in diameter at the base.

I reached out and touched one, petting it as one would pet an unfamiliar cat, slowly and with a hopeful curiosity. It was smooth and cool, almost satiny. I looked up and made eye contact with the krekas — thin and gray-haired Avo sitting on her haunches behind the table.

Sira nee?”

Hudi dubun.”

I had eaten hudi dubun (banana flower) before but I had never seen an actual hudi dubun, only the final dish at lunch or dinner. I didn’t even know bananas had flowers, much less that we could eat them — and that they were tasty.

Now, at my permanent site, I finally had the chance to learn how to clean and prepare a hudi dubun.

  1. Peel off all the purple leaves and stack them in a pile, separating the small, yellow inner blossoms as you peel.
  2. Open each small yellow blossom and remove the inner stamen and the translucent white lip at the base. The inner stamen and lip can be composted or fed to a goat. Put the edible bits of the blossom into a large bowl.
  3. Thinly slice the purple leaves against the grain, not lengthwise. Add these slices to the bowl of blossoms.
  4. Thinly slice the stem. Add this to the bowl, too.
  5. Thinly slice the core of the hudi dubun from base to tip, almost as though you’re scraping the knife against the flower; it’ll come apart in shreds.
  6. Wash all of it under cold water and then drain it.

Peeling the leaves:

Peeling the leaves
Peeling the leaves

Cleaning the blossoms:

Cleaning the blossoms
Cleaning the blossoms

Shredding the core:

Shredding the core
Shredding the core