Filipinos call it Pusong Saging. It’s a heart-shaped banana blossom, reddish on the outside, white inside. We were craving for the tangy flavors of the classic Filipino Kilawin Pusong Saging – Banana Blossoms Sautéed in Vinegar, but we were on self-quarantine mode due to the global pandemic. I couldn’t go to the Asian grocery to buy a large, fresh banana blossom. I wasn’t even sure I’d find it, as they are rare at the Asian markets. In the Philippines, we could easily pluck one from the banana trees growing in our backyard. Not here in America, though.
In Kapampangan, the dialect of my home province, this everyday Philippine vegetable dish is called Lagat Puso. It is a basic meal of the crisp banana blossom leaves, coarsely chopped then sautéed in garlic, and onions. Sometimes, cubes of pork are added to the mix. But it was Lent and we observed meat-free Fridays, so instead, I added large, fresh shrimps to the skillet.
In lieu of a fresh one, I used the canned banana blossoms. Before the purists out there call me out for not using one fresh from the banana tree, I’d like to remind you, like most of the global population, we were limiting our movements outside of the house. Plus, here in suburban America, it’s impossible to find a banana tree on the east coast.
Thanks to my cousin, Susan Agana Sembrano, who shared this recipe using canned banana blossoms, I was able to recreate a familiar dish my mother often cooked for lunch or dinner. In our Tarlac home when I was growing up, we had an abundance of banana trees in our backyard. It wasn’t unusual for mom to creatively cook different entrees with the puso ng saging.
This Kilawin Puso ng Saging was my favorite. The tart, slightly sweet sauce base from the rice vinegar, flavored with a hint of patis (fish sauce) was perfect with the succulent shrimps and the crunchy, thick, silky blossoms. Sometimes, the best home cooked meals happen in a crisis mode.
Kilawin Pusong Saging - Banana Blossoms Saute
- Large skillet or Wok: 12 to 14 inches diameter
For a fresh Puso ng Saging- Banana Blossoms
- 1 whole large fresh banana blossom sliced coarsely
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 4 to 6 cups water for soaking the banana blossom
For sauteed Puso ng Saging - using canned banana blossoms
- 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil divided; use 2 Tablespoons to saute shrimps; rest for saute of blossoms
- 4 cloves garlic peeled, minced; divided, use 2 cloves for shrimps, rest for blossoms saute
- 1 whole large red onion chopped; divided, use 1/2 of onion for shrimps; rest for blossoms saute
- 1 pound fresh large shrimps peeled, deveined, heads and tails removed; about 10 to 12 pieces
- 2 cans (18 oz. each) canned banana blossoms drain and discard liquid
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon patis (fish sauce)
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 stalk scallions chopped, for garnish
To prepare fresh Pusong Saging or Banana Blossoms
- To prepare a fresh banana blossom: Remove the outer skin of purple-red hues until you get to the white parts. Cut off the top stem and discard together with the outer skin.Slice the inner, white-colored leafy parts in coarse bite-sized chunks.In a large bowl filled with water and salt, soak the white parts of the banana blossoms to prevent them from turning black. Cover and set aside.When ready to saute, drain the water. Squeeze the fresh banana blossoms to remove the excess water. Get ready to saute these.
To saute the Pusong Saging or Banana Blossoms:
- If using the fresh blossoms, drain and discard the water, before sauteeing.If using the canned blossoms, drain and discard the liquid brine. Chop the blossoms coarsely.Using a large skillet or wok, over medium heat, add the 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Saute the 2 cloves of garlic and half of the onions.Add the shrimps and saute for about 8 minutes till they turn pink. Remove cooked shrimps from the skillet and set aside.
- Using the same skillet, add the remaining olive oil. Saute the remaining 2 cloves garlic and rest of the onions.Add the drained canned banana blossoms to the saute. *(Or add the fresh,pre-soaked banana blossoms).Pour the rice vinegar and broth. Do NOT stir. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil. When it boils, lower heat to a simmer. Continue cooking for 8 to 10 minutes more till blossoms are tender.Return the shrimps to the skillet. Pour the patis. Season with salt and black pepper.Serve warm with rice. Garnish with chopped scallions.
Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
Did you like this recipe? I have more Filipino Instant Pot recipes in my newest cookbook Instant Filipino Recipes: My Mother’s Traditional Philippine Cooking in A Multicooker Pot by Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino. Buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.
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