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How Do You Cook the Trunk of a Banana Tree?

Ask the Chef

Question:

I’m looking for a recipe how to cook the trunk of a banana tree. I live in the jungle of Costa Rica and am ministering to the Indians. Their food sources are limited but they are surrounded by banana and plantain trees. They do not know that you can eat the tree trunk. Are any of them poisonous? Can you tell me how to prepare it for them so they can learn?

Thanks,

C.S.

Answer:

This is not an area where any of our chefs have expertise. We do understand that the trunk of the banana tree (the heart—sort of a white tube) can be cooked. It is said to be fibrous and similar to bamboo shoots. This may be your best resource:

in.answers.yahoo.com

In addition to the fruit, the flower of the banana plant (also known as banana blossom or banana heart) is used in Southeast Asian, Telugu,Tamil, Bengali, and Kerala (India) cuisine, either served raw or steamed with dips or cooked in soups and curries. Banana flowers are somewhat similar in taste to artichokes and can be eaten in much the same way where one scrapes off the fleshy part of the petals and eats the whole of the heart. The tender core of the banana plant’s trunk is also used in Telugu, Bengali and Kerala cooking, and notably in the Burmese dish mohinga.

And this one:

eatingasia.typepad.com

And then there’s the banana tree. In this part of the world (and others, no doubt) its leaves are plates, bowls, 'pans’ to place atop the barbecue, and wrappers for cooking and bundling food for takeaway. Its fruit is eaten fresh, battered and deep-fried, steamed, boiled, grilled, baked in cakes, added to sweet soups, doused with palm sugar, smashed into fritters, mashed into 'pancakes’ … well, let’s just say it’s eaten in more ways that you or I can ever hope to imagine. Its blossom is shredded, fresh, for Vietnamese and Thai salads; sliced and added to soups and curries; boiled and eaten, along with other vegetables and herbs, with sambal.

It’s stem, too, ends up on the plate. In Vietnam snow-white disks of banana stem are an essential component of the fresh-herbs-and-veggies plate that accompanies the northern crab-and-noodle soup bun rieu cua. In Burma it’s added to some versions of mohingya, a comforting fish noodle soup that might qualify as the country’s national dish. Southern Indians (and Indian Malaysians) cook it with coconut milk. And, as we found last year in Butuan (Mindanao), some Filipino cooks add it to a chicken stew called binanihan.

See also: cyobi.wordpress.com

If you find out any more, we’ll consider running a story. For now, the best we can offer you is the links to other sites. Good luck!