Following on from beetroot burgers and jackfruit curries, the following famous person of the vegan “meat” global hails from the gardens of south-east Asia and appears relatively like an artichoke.
Banana blossom, sometimes called a “banana middle”, is a fleshy, purple-skinned flower, formed like a tear, which grows on the finish of a banana fruit cluster. Historically utilized in south-east Asian and Indian cooking, it can be eaten uncooked and its chunky, flaky texture makes it a perfect change for fish.
Sainsbury’s, which can be rolling out a sequence of plant-based foods later this yr, is to incorporate banana blossom in its in a position foods within the hope the flower will catch on amongst a burgeoning inhabitants of customers on the lookout for meat-free choices.
Alexa Masterson-Jones, the developments and innovation supervisor at Sainsbury’s, stated: “I used to be in a cafe referred to as Little Kolkata [in London] with my workforce, and we ordered a banana blossom kofta.
“When it arrived, we concept they’d mistakenly given us a lamb kofta, as it tasted so meaty. We concept this was once a fantastic new element, however a colleague, Jay, who grew up in Kolkata, stated ‘When I used to be rising up, we grew banana blossom on the backside of the lawn’.”
Masterson-Jones researched recipes and cooking tactics, or even spoke to Jay’s mom for inspiration. “Historically, it was once by no means used as a meat selection, however with the intention to get extra greens into dishes,” she stated. Now, recent banana blossom has began appearing in greengrocers, she added.
One in 8 Britons are actually vegetarian or vegan, in line with analysis through Waitrose, and about 22 million other folks determine as “flexitarians” – individuals who devour meat however need to cut back their intake. Supermarkets are expanding their vegan strains, from “ham” to “goujons” and “meatballs” to “burgers” created from soya, seitan, tempeh and Quorn.
Waitrose is so as to add an additional 10 strains in April to its current vary of 65 merchandise, together with a seitan and mushroom burger. Marks & Spencer’s Plant Kitchen is a vegan vary of 60 merchandise together with soya-based nuggets, cauliflower popcorn and the primary vegan coleslaw.
With plant-based choices, there are two camps: the ones on the lookout for selection proteins akin to pea and soya, and people who go for components together with banana blossom which might be nutritious and fibrous, however don’t seem to be going to give you the identical protein content material as meat.
“Other greens have their very own distinctive structural homes, so do higher jobs at replicating various things. As an example, the mushrooms we use in our Shroomdogs do a super process at emulating that sausage-like texture, whilst jackfruit is excellent at replicating pulled beef,” stated Masterton-Jones.
Banana blossom has “somewhat a impartial flavour, so it absorbs flavours actually neatly. We’ve been soaking it in kombu and wrapping it in nori, to place that fishy flavour thru it, and created a battered cod-esque fillet,” she stated. As banana blossom is fibrous, it could stand numerous seasoning. “We’ve been stir-frying it, hanging it in dumplings and croquettes, and we’ve discovered that in case you cube it up actually small, it has a pleasing mince texture as neatly,” she stated.
Gizzi Erskine, the chef and co-founder of Dust, a soya mince burger eating place in London, stated: “We’re ended in consider that meat is the one option to get top quality proteins, and we all know that’s now not the case.
“Folks are actually in need of to increase their wisdom about opting for sustainable meals choices, and so they know they are able to get the similar diet from meat-free proteins.”
On the Thai eating place Supawan in London, take a look at the Yum Hua Plee salad. Offered in a teardrop red leaf, it’s chopped up into a nearly mince-like state and has an incredibly meaty texture, albeit rather stringy. Some say it tastes like artichoke, however right here it kind of feels extra of a car than having its personal id, with the chilli and spices giving it warmth and sharpness.
The London chip store Sutton and Sons serves a flippantly pickled artichoke resemblance. It without a doubt looks as if the actual deal, however does somewhat have the flaky texture on slicing. Having been marinated in seaweed and samphire, that is most probably the nearest you’re going to get to the flavor of fish.