You have probably heard of or have eaten the heart of palm. Have you ever thought of eating a young banana tree? I have always wanted to try. Finally a few years go while visiting Maui I actually attempted it. Unfortunately it tasted bitter and awful. Apparently there are good tasting versus bad banana trees for consumption. I have written in a past posting that the best banana blossom comes from a banana variety that has seeds similar to peppercorns known as chuoi hot in Vietnamese. Luckily my grandmother's home has many of these trees growing in the backyard. It turns out the baby banana tree from this variety also tastes the best. When you harvest the tree you want to find a fat one preferably less than 4 feet tall. Cut down to the base as much as you can. You may have to even dig under the base a little if possible. The soft part will be about a foot from the base. Cut off to this part and peel away and discard the outer tough layers. Once you have reached the soft center part then use a knife or your fingers to peel away the paper thin layer. Wash the tender core and thinly shred this part and put in ice water with some lime juice. I usually use one large lime or 2 small ones per tree. Squeeze out the water with your palms when ready to eat. There are numerous ways to consume this; use it in a salad, add to a stir fry, or a hot pot. However way you eat this it will be delicious. Di Y (my maternal second aunt) loves eating this. She prefers it over banana blossom because it is soft and easy to chew.
|--cluster of banana trees|
|--freshly harvested edible young banana trees|
|--peel the outer tough thick layers until you reach the soft center|
--peel away the paper thin layers before slicing
|--thinly slice the core and place in water|