The banana heart is the flower of the banana plant. From it grow the fruits. I’d rather not delve into the botanic terms save to say that the banana plant is not a tree. That is something I learned in grade school. If you want more detailed scientific discussion, you can click here.
In the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries, the banana heart itself is edible at that stage when it is cooked as a vegetable. It is most commonly served as a salad or as a sauteed vegetable dish often with coconut milk.
Here is a visual illustration for the trimming and preparation of the banana heart for cooking.
Above, that’s how the banana heart looks when you buy it.
Start by pulling off the outer layers which are very fibrous and certainly unfit for human consumption. The layers come off easily, just pull them out.
Keep pulling out layers until you reach the soft core. The banana heart will be half its original size at this point but, don’t worry, you’ll get a lot out of it.
Cut off the stem portion and discard.
Cut the banana heart into halves.
Slice thinly. The banana heart is ready to cook at this point. If you’re not using it immediately, to avoid discoloration, soak in cold salted water.
The most common way of cooking the banana heart is with coconut milk (click here for the recipe). Leftovers can be drained and made into spring rolls. The banana heart spring roll recipe and photos will be posted in a while.