The first time I experienced this salad was during a trip to Negros Occidental. And I say “experienced” rather than “ate” because this is one of those dishes that tickles the eyes and the nose as well as the taste buds. Perhaps, it’s the aura of utter freshness. Or, maybe, it’s that intoxicating tropical aroma. I was so smitten that I dubbed it the ensalada of my dreams. It took a while for me to make my version not wanting to commit any injustice to the cook who introduced me to it, to our wonderful host and hostess who wanted us to savor authentic Negrense cooking at its best, and the lovely vacation that will forever be a highlight in the travel folder of my memories.
What is this wonderful salad made of? Think of it as a vegan ceviche. Thinly-sliced blanched banana heart, shallots, tomatoes and chilies are tossed with kalamansi juice and coconut milk to make this fresh vegan dish that can served as a starter or as a side dish.
To make preparation easier, check out these articles before making the salad:
Blanch the sliced banana heart in salted boiling water for about two minutes. Strain, dump in a bowl of iced water to refresh, strain and squeeze to remove excess water.
In a mixing bowl, toss together the squeezed banana heart, shallots, tomatoes and chili.
Pour in the coconut milk. Toss. Season with salt and pepper. Add just enough kalamansi juice to create a good contrast with the sweet creamy coconut milk.
Cover the bowl with cling film and let sit in the fridge for at least 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.