Cooking 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.
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.
- Peel off all the purple leaves and stack them in a pile, separating the small, yellow inner blossoms as you peel.
- 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.
- Thinly slice the purple leaves against the grain, not lengthwise. Add these slices to the bowl of blossoms.
- Thinly slice the stem. Add this to the bowl, too.
- 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.
- Wash all of it under cold water and then drain it.