Banana blossom in coconut cream is guinataang puso ng saging in Filipino and I was in high school when I first learned to cook it. I remember my father advising that I choose the variety of banana blossom that was long, cream-colored and no more than three inches in diameter at the thickest part. Why that was preferable over the more common fat reddish and red and stout banana blossom, I never asked, although I suspected it had something to do with the numerous varieties of banana available in the Philippines. One time years later, when I was obliged to use the non-preferred variety, I realized that the long cream-colored banana blossom was more tender and required a shorter cooking time.
Pork traditionally goes into this dish but I have tried versions using daing (salted dried fish). This is the traditional recipe except for the addition of cilantro.
Banana Blossom in Coconut Cream
- Cut the pork belly into one-inch cubes (they will shrink during cooking, anyway, so don’t worry that they’re rather large at this point).
- Peel and finely mince the garlic.
- Peel and finely slice the shallots.
- Peel and grate the ginger.
- Trim and slice the chilies.
- Heat the cooking oil in a wide shallow pan (I always recommend a wok for all-purpose cooking). When hot, add the pork and cook, stirring, until lightly browned.
- Add the garlic, shallots, ginger and chilies. Season with fish sauce. Continue cooking, stirring often, for a few minutes.
- Pour in a cup of water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the pork is very tender.
- While the pork simmers, prepare the banana blossoms by removing the outer layers. Keep at it until you reach the light creamy inner portion. I usually remove three of the outer layers but with more mature banana blossom, you may need to remove more. Discard the outer layers (these are too tough and fibrous). Cut the banana blossoms into half inch rings and add to the pork (see the illustration).
- Cook the pork and vegetables for a few minutes. Banana blossom takes no more than 10 minutes to cook.
- Pour in the coconut cream. Stir well. Taste and add more fish sauce, if necessary. Boil gently, uncovered, for about three minutes.
- Turn off the heat. Let stand, uncovered, for about 5 minutes to allow the flavors to infuse. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro (ah, the difference that cilantro makes!), stir a few times
- Serve the banana blossoms in coconut cream with hot rice.