I had a conversation with friends on Friday night about meat substitutes and whether, as a vegan, they're something we enjoy. I've been vegetarian since I was 13 and back then I used to eat a fair bit of Quorn. But over the years I realised there are heaps of healthier plants that give me variety, texture & that elusive protein us vegans are supposed to lack ;)
It isn't really about mimicking meat for me, it's about making vegan food exciting. But if you're only just transitioning to a plant-based diet, meal ideas to replicate meat can be really useful.
Banana Blossom are the tear shaped flowers found at the end of a banana cluster. When they're battered and fried, the colour, shape and texture bear a striking resemblance to fish. This edible flower has been popular in the culinary traditions of Southeast Asian countries for years, they contain a multitude of vitamins and nutrients and are beginning to make their way into Western dishes.
If I'm to liken Banana Blossom to anything, I'd say a mixture between artichoke & jackfruit. Flaky, savoury and full of vitamins A C, and E. They also contain potassium and fibres which makes them an excellent health food and a source of nutrients.
1 tin Banana Blossom (I bought this one)
100g plain flour (I used gluten free)
160ml sparkling water
Sheet of sushi nori
2 tbsp coconut oil
CHIPS & PEAS
1 large sweet potato
150g frozen peas
4 heaped tbsp vegan mayo
Juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp capers
6 mini gherkins chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh dill finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 160C
Begin by draining the tin of Banana Blossom. Lay the pieces out flat to dry. Tear a strip of sushi nori and lie it along the Banana Blossom. The moisture of the Banana Blossom should help it to stick. This will give it that ocean flavour. You can use kelp flakes instead if you find those easier
Whisk the flour and sparkling water together with a pinch or two of salt until it forms a nice, thick batter.
Fry the coconut oil in a heavy pan until sizzling hot
Dip the Banana Blossom into the batter and gently lie into the hot oil, after a couple of minutes the batter should turn a crisp, golden brown, turn over and then fry on the other side. Repeat until all side are crisp and golden. Lie on kitchen paper to soak up excess oil
To make the tartar sauce, stir all the ingredients together well
Slice the sweet potato into thick wedges, lie on a baking tray and drizzle in olive oil. Oven bake for 20 - 30 mins at 160C
Finally simmer the peas in boiling water, drain and serve