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From The Elephant Walk Cookbook (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998)
Banana Blossom Salad
Nyoum Trayong Chaek


.... Serves 4

Ingredients:
  • 1 banana blossom (1- 1 1/2 pounds) - available in Asian markets
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 large whole chicken breast (about 3/4 pound)
  • 1 cup loosely packed mint leaves
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 pound mung beans sprouts
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, roasted (see below) and coarsely ground
  • 1/3 cup Dressing for Salad (see below)
DRESSING FOR SALAD (Tuk Trey):
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 5 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons salt


Fill a large bowl with water mixed with the juice of 1 lemon. Set aside.

Remove the tough outer layer of the banana blossom and discard it, along with the undeveloped "baby" bananas inside. Carefully pull away the next several layers of leaves, regularly cutting into the stem to make it easier to break them off (the aim is to keep the leaves whole if possible). Lay several leaves on top of one another and slice the leaves crosswise into 1/4-inch wide strips. To keep the leaved from turning black, place sliced leaves in the acidulated water, turning occassionally.

Continue in this fashion, releasing the leaves discarding the undeveloped bananas and cutting the leaves into strips, until you reach the "heart." Cut this center in half lengthwise, remove as many"babies" as possible, and slice the remaining leaves widthwise about 1/4-inch thick.

In a medium saucepan, bring the 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the chicken breastm return to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the meat is tender.

Remove the chicken from the pan and let cool slightly, then shred the meat with your fingers.

In a large salad bowl, toss all the vegetables, mint and basil together with the chicken. Setting aside a handful for garnish, mix in the ground peanuts. Add dressing and toss. Sprinkle with the remaining peanuts and serve immediately.

ROASTED PEANUTS
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put raw peanuts in a shallow pan and bake, stirring occassionally to ensure even roasting , until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. When the nuts are cold, grind them with mortar and pestle.

DRESSING FOR SALAD
In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add the sugar, stirring to dissolve. Set aside and allow to cool.

Pound the garlice and shallot into small pieces with a mortar and pestle; or grind in a food processor. Stir into sugar water, then add the remaining ingredients.

 

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