Vietnamese Banana Blossom Salad

We are very excited to be back on the blog again. It is actually something we have been missing a lot. And at the same time we are incredibly grateful for the help from our guest bloggers. Without you, our trip would never have been this relaxing. Right now we have about six weeks left before we are going back to Sweden, we will spend most of those weeks in a house (with our own kitchen!) 80 feet from the beach on an island in southern Thailand. We are moving in tomorrow!

While being away from the blog we have been coming up with a couple of ideas for new blog posts. Some are food related, others are not. They are just ideas right now, but here are some of the stuff that we probably will turn into posts during our last weeks of this dream trip:
• Our favorite recipes from Thailand.
• Elsa turns 1 in less than a month (5th of March),
of course we have to bake some kind of sugar free birthday cake for her.
• We have been drinking many different varieties of green tea, maybe we should do a guide about it?
• Traveling with small children – here is what we’ve learned.

If there is anything else that you want to read about – something from our trip, or any recipes in general – please let us now by leaving a comment.

Here are some photos from our last days in Vietnam, and further down a recipe for Banana Blossom Salad.

Sugarcane juice with lime and fresh strawberries. It is quite the process to make this juice, they crush the cane by hand in an antique machine, with pieces of lime, mint and strawberries in between. It tastes very sweet and beats coca cola any day of the week.

You wouldn’t believe all the stuff that the Vietnamese can carry with them on a small motorbike. We have seen families with up to six people on one motorbike. One guy crossing a red light while balancing a 50-inch plasma screen on the seat behind him. And it’s actually not and unusual sight that they – like this guy – drive around with a tree behind their back.

On our final day in Vietnam we took a cooking class. It was fun learning how to hold your chopsticks right (it turns out we have been using the wrong grip all the time), how to make fried spring rolls, the simple trick how to know when the frying oil has got the right temperature, a classic phó chay recipe, and this delicious banana blossom salad. We of course realize that most of you probably don’t have banana blossoms growing in your backyard (we actually have it right now!), but you can easily replace it with any kind of cabbage, and you will still have a fresh, spicy and very asian inspired salad. We have made a few adjustments from the original recipe. We have added papaya or green mango, which is very common in asian salads, and used agave instead of sugar in the marinade.

Banana Blossom Salad (adapted from the Saigon Cooking Class)
Makes 1 salad that could serve 2 as a starter

1 (300 g) young banana blossom (you can also use white cabbage, red cabbage, kale)
500 ml ice water with 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 papaya or 1/2 green mango, shredded into thin slices
1 onion thinly chopped
1 carrot, cut or shredded in thin sticks
1/2 green pepper, thinly sliced
1 tbsp long coriander (polygonum leaf) or ordinary coriander/cilantro
1 tbsp vietnamese mint leaves
2 tbsp crushed peanuts
1 tbsp shallots to garnish (crispy fried or fresh)

Marinade:
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp agave or acacia honey or maple syrup
1 tbsp soya sauce
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp shallots, chopped
1/2 tsp red long chili (medium spicy), chopped

Place the layers of the banana blossom (or the cabbage leaves) on top of each other and roll them tight together. Slice them very thin and place them in a bowl of ice water and lime for about 20 minutes, then squeeze until dry and set aside. Make the marinade, add all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir around until dissolved. Combine banana blossom, papaya, onion, carrot, green pepper, coriander, marinade and peanuts in a large bowl and toss until well blended. Arrange the salad on a serving platter (or as we did, on a thick part of the banana or cabbage leaf) and sprinkle with shallots, peanuts and if you are up for it some extra red chili. Serve and enjoy this spicy classic vietnamese dish!