Banana – (Musaceae) is by far the most widely known fruit in the world and the most cultivated. The varieties of banana is so wide it is divided into 10 groups from the cavendish type to cooking bananas called plantains but the Philippines also have the cooking banana variety we call “saba” or “popo’ulu” in Hawaiian.
We all know about banana fruit but hardly knew about banana heart as a vegetable. Banana heart is also edible and in the Philippines we cook it just like other vegetables.
The way to prepare it is removing the outer parts or sheaths until you see the inner part which is creamy in color. Depending on what recipe you are cooking, you can cut the heart and then soak in salted water to prevent from discoloration. In the recipe we call “kare-kare”, the heart is cut into quarters and use it as an ingredient. In the US, since banana hearts are not readily available, you can actually substitute artichoke hearts. In another recipe, you can chop the banana hearts thinly and cook in coconut milk with ginger and hot chili peppers. These two recipes are my favorite. Some would use the chopped banana hearts in place of ground beef for hamburger and in Thailand they use the florets for making salads.
Banana hearts can also be used in “sinigang”, a sour soup made of tamarind fruits as a souring agent, with either shrimp or mikfish as the protein.
Banana heart is a good source of fiber.