Vegan alternatives are becoming more popular and largely available in many shops and restaurants.
One of the latest “trends” consists in the use of banana blossoms, a pretty new ingredient for us Europeans but a largely used one and very well known in Asian cuisine.
This ingredient is indeed the blossom of the banana bunch.
The outer leaves of the banana blossom are purple and bright and its core is the edible part, which is typically sliced and used in soups, curries or salads.
It has been known for a couple of years in the vegan comunity, especially by people from the UK, as it is considered a great alternative to make vegan fish and chips.
Today I’m going to show you how to realize easy vegan fish cakes out of this amazing and versatile ingredient.
How does banana blossom taste like?
The main question people have been asking is weither banana blossom tastes like actual fish.
The answer my dears is no.
Does it taste like bananas then?
Nope, it doesn’t either.
The banana blossom taste is rather neutral. Its texture, however, makes it similar to an artichoke heart, and its taste kinda resemble it too (I’m talking about artichokes from a can, not fresh).
This is possibly because we only get to find it already canned in either brine or water, as this ingredient oxidates really quickly, in fact you will notice that it goes brown after a few minutes when purchased fresh, so it needs to be placed in an acidid liquid (as it’s brine) to prevent oxidation.
So, if banana blossom doesn’t taste fishy, how can one use it in place of fish?
The secrets is the marinate my friend.
In fact, the longer you marinate the banana blossom in a fishy broth, the better it will absorbe the flavour and it will mimic perfectly both the texture and the taste of fish.
So I’d invite you to try this ingredient if:
– you are missing fish in your meals;
– you have skeptical family or friends about vegan dishes;
– you are simply curious to experience and try new things.
The first step that is required to begin this recipe is make sure we have a rich and flavourful marinate for our banana blossom.
To achieve the fishy taste for our fish cakes we will need seaweed.
Kelp helps achieve a good broth, and wakame is used both in the marinate and in the mixture of the fish cakes for an extra flavour. If you don’t have wakame, you can use nori instead.
The other ingredients for the marinate are: lemon wedges, dill and ground garlic, onion and ginger.
All we need to do is to arrange the banana blossom with all the spices and herbs into a pot, cover with water and bring it to a boil.
As soon as the water starts to boil we cover the pot and simmer the banana blossom for 15-20 minutes (this will tenderise the core and will allow infuse the flavour).
After that all we need to do is to turn the heat off and let it cool completely.
Additionally we can store the banana blossom with the cooled marinate in the fridge overnight or for a few hours to infuse the flavour even more.
Once the marinated blossoms have cooled down we need to drain the liquid out and chop them roughly (note: do not dispose the liquid! It can be used for other seafoody dishes like this Vegan Seafood Linguine Pasta or for a tasty risotto).
Note: if you cannot find banana blossom easily you can substitute them with jackfruit or artichoke hearts.
The Fish Cakes
Now that our banana blossom are ready and chopped we can move onto preparing the mix of the fish cakes.
First of all we need to cook the potatoes. I peal and roughly dice mine and pop into the microwawe with 1/2 an inch of water and pierced film on top of the bowl for 8 minutes at 800W.
After cooking the potatoes we can rinse them under current cold water and mash.
Secondly we chop up some capers, parsley and dill (according to taste) and mix them into the mash potato.
Next we add all the remaining ingredients with a little bit of lemon zest for some lemony flavour, mix well and this will be the patty of the fish cakes.
To shape the fish cakes simply form a ball of around 80 grams, flat it on the palm of your hands and finally dust it into bread crumbs.
I’ve cooked my fish cakes in the air fryer with a drop of vegetable oil for 15-20 minutes at 200°C, but you can bake them in pre-heated oven instead or even deep or pan fry them for a few minutes per side.
Here there are our fish free fish banana blossom fish cakes ready to be enjoyed with a squeeze of lemon juice, tartare sauce and maybe some sweet potato fried and peas.
Banana Blossom “Fish” Cakes Recipe
500 gr Potatoes
250 gr Banana Blossom (1 can)
1/3 cup Corn Starch
1/3 cup Breadcrumbs
1 piece of Kelp
1 tbsp Capers
1 tsp Wakame Flakes
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1 pinch Ginger Powder
1. Drain and rinse the banana blossom. Arrange them into a pot and add: kelp sheet, wakame, lemon wedges, few springs of dill, salt and white pepper. Cover with water and bring it to a boil. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes then turn the heat off and let it cool completely.
2. Peel the potato skin and roughly chop into cubes. Arrange the potato chuncks into a glass bowl add 1/2 inch of water, cover the bowl with film and pierce the film a few times with a fork. Microwave the potatoes for 8 minutes at 800W, then leave in the microwave for another 5 minutes.
3. Rinse the potatoes in cold water and mash with a potato masher.
4. Drain the banana blossoms and the wakame from the marinate, roughly chop into small bites.
5. In a bowl combine the mash potato, the banana blossoms, roughly chopped capers, dill and fresh parsley, corn starch, 1 tsp of grated lemon zest, salt, pepper and onion, garlic and ginger powder. Mix well.
6. To form the fish cakes: take 80 grams of the mixture, roll it first into a ball then flat the sides. Coat well into breadcrumbs and set aside. Continue until you finish all the mixture.
7. Arrange the fish cakes onto an air fryer basket or a baking tray with a spash of vegetable oil and bake for 20 minutes at 200°C (395°F). Alternatively you can pan fry or deep fry the fish cakes.
8. Serve warm ideally with some vegan tartare sauce, fries and peas.