Monday, April 11, 2016

Papaya-Banana Blossom-Tako Salad (serves 6)

When I am on Maui I have access to many green papayas and banana blossoms. I love to use these ingredients in various dishes to keep my meals diverse--in salads, soups or even stir-fries. On my most recent trip to Maui I saw some sliced cooked octopus (also known as tako) already in a package ready to eat for sale at one of the large local markets. If you don't like octopus or have a problem with availability then you may use either cooked shrimp or a combination of cooked and sliced cooked pork (normally from boiling or steaming). I like to keep a stash of freshly shredded banana blossom and green papaya that I have prepared in bags and stored in my refrigerator to create a quick meal. I have never seen anyone make a salad using this combination before but I made it numerous times and liked how it turned out--tasty, crunchy and visually appealing. Sometimes I prefer to pre-season the salad right before serving as in this recipe. This way my salad still retains its crunchiness. I start by adding a tablespoon of fish sauce, a few large pinches of sugar and juice from a lemon or lime. I don't add extra water since the squeezed out shredded papaya and banana blossom still have some in them. I give everything a good toss to mix all the ingredients together and give it a taste. I then adjust the taste after this initial seasoning. There should be a balance of sweetness, saltiness and sourness. You can also make the Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (my version which tends to be more sour according to my mother) or Vietnamese Chili and Garlic Dipping Sauce--Auntie's Style (my maternal eldest aunt's version) and pour it out onto tiny sauce dishes. People can dip the salad into the sauce as they eat or pour the amount they prefer on their salad. Since not everyone eats hot chili I usually let the individual person add this to his or her own plate. The peanuts can be added by the individual as well especially if someone in your party has allergies.

Check out my other posts on How to Shred a Green Papaya, How to Prepare a Banana Blossom, and Roasted Peanuts.

Papaya-Banana Blossom-Tako Salad

Ingredients:

1 large banana blossom, shredded (about 3 handful of banana blossom)
1 medium sized papaya, shredded
1/2 lb sliced cooked octopus, may add more if interested
Mint leaves, shredded or chopped (add as little or as much as you prefer)
About 1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
About 1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
Juice from 1 large lemon or lime
Roasted peanuts, chopped or lightly crushed
Chili pepper or Sriracha sauce

Method:

In a large bowl (preferably glass) add the blossom, papaya, octopus and mint leaves. Season with fish sauce, sugar and juice of lime or lemon. Mix all ingredients until well blended. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Scoop some out onto a plate. Sprinkle with roasted peanuts and chili pepper if interested.

cardinal perched on feeder
*The above photo is a cardinal sitting on my bird feeder. The clump of white fluff next to the bird is snow. We had a recent snow storm on April 4, 2016. This makes me wish I could be on Maui enjoying the warm weather again.

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