Banana Blossoms: A Plant-Based Seafood Substitute

The purple flower attached to the bunch of bananas on a tree is entirely edible with a surprisingly fish-like texture.

If you enjoy eating jackfruit like BBQ pulled pork, your mind is about to be blown by the next big plant-based meat alternative for fish: banana blossoms. This isn't a new ingredient by any means. Banana blossoms are a popular ingredient used in traditional Southeast Asian soups, stir-fries, and salads. Today, the banana blossom is predicted as one of Whole Food Market's top five plant-based trends for the summer. So why are banana blossoms about to become the go-to vegan "fish" ingredient? To start, the banana blossom flakes are just like real fish once cooked (see vegan TikTok star Tabitha Brown make them!). Learn all about the trendy ingredient, how to use it, and where to find it.

fresh banana blossom on tree
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What Is a Banana Blossom?

The banana blossom (aka banana flower or banana hearts) as a whole is a purple tear-shape flower that grows at the end of a banana fruit cluster. Once the inedible dark outer petals (these are called bracts) are removed, the inside reveals yellowish tightly-packed petals similar to the way artichokes look. These flower clusters are the edible portion cooked to emulate a shredded fish texture.

What Do Banana Blossoms Taste Like?

Even though they come from the same tree and literally grow off a cluster of bananas, you won't find any fruity banana flavor here—it's a flower, after all. Similar to jackfruit or tofu, the flavor of banana blossoms is neutral, meaning they can take on the taste of however you season them.

Banana Blossom Benefits

Not only are banana blossoms an excellent fish substitute for creating vegan seafood dishes, but there are some serious health benefits as well. "We're always looking for the next big trend that will provide nutritional value as well as deliver on delicious taste," says Parker Brody, senior global category merchant for plant-based at Whole Foods Market. "Banana blossoms are a soy-free, gluten-free alternative to fish that literally grows on trees." Brody notes bananas contain 0 grams fat and 0 grams cholesterol. Similar to the actual banana fruit, the blossoms also contain vitamins (A, C, and E), minerals (iron, magnesium, and potassium), and fiber. Studies also revealed banana blossoms contain antioxidants.

banana blossom fried with french fries
Courtesy of Upton Naturals

How to Eat Banana Blossoms (and Where to Buy Them)

Luckily you won't have to look for the purple flowers to take apart and cook. The most common way to buy banana blossoms is preserved in a brine. As mentioned earlier, Whole Foods is jumping on the banana blossom trend, which you'll find sold by plant-based brand Upton's Naturals in 6-ounce packages ($7.09, Amazon). You can also find canned banana blossoms ($24, Amazon) at your local Asian market. As for how to eat banana blossoms, you might find vegan recipes calling for kelp powder or nori to achieve a more "fishy" flavor. To start, try frying banana blossoms fish and chips style. Or try making a Thai-inspired salad.

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  1. Ara Begum, Yesmin. "Chemical profiling and functional properties of dietary fibre rich inner and outer bracts of culinary banana flower." Journal of Food Science and Technology. 2019. pp. 5298–5308.

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