Saturday, March 7, 2015

Goi Cay Chuoi (Banana Tree Salad)--serves 5-6 as part of a shared meal

One of my aunts and I went out to my grandmother's back yard and harvested a baby banana tree to make a salad. These banana trees are special and they are called chuối hột since they have black round seeds (resembling whole black peppers) in the flesh. "Chuối" is a term for banana in Vietnamese and "hột" means seed. The fruits of both ripe and unripe ones are edible. The banana blossoms and young trees are excellent for eating fresh after harvesting or used in cooking--they are not bitter and do not turn black when oxidized with oxygen like other varieties of banana trees. The leaves are useful for wrapping food in cooking, as a plate liner or decoration. These trees were originally planted by my late grandfather many decades ago. He liked eating the ripened bananas. The unripe bananas are sliced whole and usually eaten as part of a wrap or dip in a sauce. These tend to be more bitter and not everyone enjoys this taste.

my aunt harvesting a young banana tree
My aunt's son (cousin Sen) visited earlier from Can Tho on a scooter, riding with him was his wife, 6 month old child, 4 live large organic chickens, about 10 live fish, a huge bag of freshly harvested gourds, and a few fully stuffed back packs. He and his wife used to travel like this in the past but now that they have a young son they continue to think they can travel easily with a heavy load! I was amazed when I heard this. 

We ate one of the chickens and I used some of the meat--mostly the legs for this banana tree salad. I used juice from 1 key lime for the entire tree. You can add as little or as much lime juice as you prefer. Prior to eating I drizzle a little of the Vietnamese dipping sauce over it. I delivered via bicycle a container for my aunt and uncle (the ones with the restaurant) and they loved it. They told me it was very tasty and even saved a little so they could eat it the next day. My uncle said he ate some with the braised meat. They generally don't have time to make this type of salad since they are too busy working in their restaurant. 

another way to present the banana tree salad
ripe bananas on the sides and cleaned banana leaves as a liner
Goi Cay Chuoi (Banana Tree Salad)--serves 5-6 as part of a shared meal


1 young banana tree, outer layers removed and sliced paper thin, soaked in water, squeezed dried
Juice from 1/2 to 1 lime (more or less depending on your preference)
1-2 tsp of sugar (more or less depending on your preference)
Your choice of herbs, sliced or hand-torn
Steamed or boiled shrimp, peeled (optional)
Steamed or boiled chicken, hand shredded
Crushed Roasted Peanuts
Vietnamese Chili and Garlic Dipping Sauce


Mix sliced banana, lime juice, and sugar well. Garnish with herb, shrimp, chicken, and peanuts. Eat with Vietnamese dipping sauce.

beautiful pattern from sliced banana tree
*You may add as little or as much of the ingredients as you want in this salad. I did not want too much meat so I used the meat from 2 legs of a boiled chicken. I also added shrimp for taste and look. You may use any herbs you prefer for this salad. I used Thai basil, mint, Vietnamese mint and culantro.
*You may check out How to Prepare a Banana Tree for Eating.

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