Banana Blossom Is the Vegan Fish Alternative Everyone Can Appreciate

Banana blossom, which can be prepared as you would a vegetable, also happens to make a convincing substitute for fish.

banana blossoms and a large bunch of bananas in front of a pink and green palm background
Photo: Adobe Stock

Step aside, jackfruit, there's a new plant-based protein alternative in town. Banana blossom, a common ingredient in South Asian cuisine, is the ultimate plant-based fish substitute. Not only is it nutritious (just like the banana fruit from the same tree) but it even flakes like the real thing once cooked.

Curious? Read on to learn about banana blossom, how to use it in place of fish, and other ways to prepare it.

What Is Banana Blossom?

Banana blossom — aka banana flower or banana heart — is the large, magenta-colored, teardrop-shaped flower that grows at the end of a banana bunch. Each flower has a cluster of yellow-tipped florets around the base; if left on the tree, those florets become bananas. Parts of the florets and inner petals can be eaten raw or cooked; the outer petals are pretty tough, so they're pretty much considered inedible.

BTW, the entire flower is called a banana blossom, but for the purpose of this article, the term "banana blossom" will refer to the inner petals, which are more commonly used in recipes and sold in cans.

Banana Blossom Nutrition Facts

Similar to the yellow fruit you know and love, banana blossoms are an A+ source of vitamins — specifically, vitamins A, C, and E — and minerals such as magnesium and potassium, according to an article published in the International Journal of Current Research. Banana blossoms also have a good amount of protein and fiber, which are two macronutrients that you need a lot of each day.

Below, find the nutrition facts for a serving (150 grams) of banana blossom in a salt brine, per the United States Department of Agriculture:

  • 20 calories
  • 2 grams protein
  • 3 grams carbohydrate
  • 2 grams fiber
  • 0 grams sugar

Health Benefits of Banana Blossom

Why try banana blossom? Well, besides the delicious taste, the ingredient boasts a bunch of beneficial nutrients that can keep you in tip-top shape. Here are a few ways the flower can help your health:

Provides an Immunity Boost

As you've already heard, banana blossom boasts a few superstar vitamins and minerals. Specifically, vitamins C and E are an immune-building duo that support your white blood cells, aka the cells that fight against infection. Vitamin E "supports T cells, which are [white blood cells] in charge of protecting your body from virus and bacteria," Charmaine Jones, M.S., R.D.N., L.D.N., nutritionist and founder of Food Jonezi, previously told Shape. Vitamin C keeps white blood cells safe from oxidative stress, which is a process that can cause cell damage, and also helps phagocytes (white blood cells that kill microorganisms and remove dead cells) do their job, as Shape previously reported.

Helps Prevent Heart Disease

Another hugely beneficial mineral available in banana blossom? Potassium. Yep, just like your average bananas, these flowers offer a bunch of the heart-healthy micronutrient. As Shape previously reported, potassium helps keep blood pressure levels in check by relaxing the blood vessel walls, making it easier for blood to get through. Potassium can also help your body get rid of sodium, which can up your blood pressure in excess. Additional heart benefits of potassium include helping to keep your heartbeat regular and making it easier for nutrients to flow into your cells.

Promotes Healthy Digestion

What's more, banana blossoms are rich in fiber, which can help improve digestion and absorption of food, explains Allison Gregg, R.D.N., L.D.N., a registered dietitian and nutritional consultant for Mom Loves Best. There are two types of fibersoluble and insoluble fiber — and banana blossom contains both, with a bit more of the insoluble type, per a study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology. Soluble fiber is (you guessed it!) soluble in water, forming a gel-like substance which helps stool flow more easily through the digestive system. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, doesn't dissolve in water, in turn bulking up and softening the stool so that it's easier to pass.

Rich In Disease-Fighting Antioxidants

Banana blossoms also contain a "significant amount" of disease-fighting antioxidants and polyphenols, according to the study mentioned above from the Journal of Food Science and Technology. How do they fight disease? Basically, your body naturally produces unstable molecules called free radicals, and you can also be exposed to them via the environment (think: sunlight, cigarette smoke, pollution in the air). Those free radicals have the power to trigger oxidative stress — again, a process that can cause cell damage, leading to chronic illnesses including cancer. Antioxidants can actually prevent or delay that cell damage from happening, which is why it's crucial to get enough of 'em in your diet.

Potential Risks of Banana Blossom

There are no reported side effects of eating banana blossom — though, if you have concerns, you should feel free to run it past your doctor before trying the ingredient. Also, if you're allergic to bananas, you'll likely want to steer clear of these blossoms since they come from the same plant. Banana allergies aren't all that common, but they may be an issue for you if you're allergic to latex or some types of pollen. Be on the lookout for food allergy symptoms such as an itchy throat, hives, and skin swelling if you're concerned about having a reaction.

Also, as mentioned earlier, banana blossoms are high in fiber, so take the same precautions you would to not add too much fiber to your diet too quickly to avoid bloating or discomfort.

How to Buy, Cook, and Eat Banana Blossom

Banana flowers have a naturally neutral taste, so they can easily pick up the flavors of ingredients such as kelp powder or nori flakes, which can add a briny flavor similar to that which you'd find in fish. The barely-there taste is also the perfect base for lemon, dill, and salt — ingredients typically used in seafood recipes. As for the consistency, banana blossoms have a layered, soft, and fleshy texture. When you bite into a cooked blossom, it will lightly flake and pull apart — again, as you'd expected with a flaky white fish.

Making banana blossom "fish" is easy — promise. The tricky part tends to be simply finding out where to buy banana blossom, which isn't as common in major U.S. markets as it is in Asia, where it's traditionally used in dishes such as curries, salads, stews, and soups, according to the International Journal of Current Research study. Your best bet for finding banana blossom is likely at specialty Asian food markets and health food stores.

But before you purchase, it's important you know what you're looking for and how you plan to use it. See, banana blossoms come in a variety of different versions: fresh, packaged, and canned. Cleaning and preparing fresh banana blossoms takes practice, as it includes peeling back petals on repeat until you (finally!) reach a white banana heart in the center, which you'll slice and dice to prep depending on your banana blossom recipe. The point being: You might want to use packaged banana blossoms, which have already been prepped, for ease.

Canned banana flowers have a mild flavor that can pick up seasonings and spices. However, you don't want to use jarred banana blossom that's pickled in vinegar for faux fish if that's what you plan to make with it, as the vinegar flavor may be too overpowering for the dish.

If you don't have a specialty store nearby, you can try buying banana blossom in a can from online retailers, such as Nature's Charm Banana Blossom in Brine (Buy It, $26 for 6 cans,, or in a packet, such as Upton's Naturals Banana Blossom in Brine (Buy It, $4, Both options contain banana blossoms in a saltwater brine. But take note: "Some brands are very high in salt, so try to choose an option that does not exceed 300 milligrams of sodium per serving," advises Gregg.

Try adding it to dishes that call for meat or preparing it as you would other veggies. Here are a few more ways to eat banana blossom:

In curries. Add sautéed blossoms to your favorite vegan curry recipe and serve it over rice.

In a salad. If you're all about spicy dishes, make a classic Vietnamese banana blossom salad with this recipe from Green Kitchen Stories. Thinly slice the flowers, marinate in soy sauce and lime juice, then toss with mango, carrots, and peanuts. You can also try cooked or raw banana blossoms in any go-to salad.

In tacos. Give Taco Tuesday a meat-free spin by filling the tortillas with battered banana blossom vegan fish (which is detailed in the recipe below). Alternatively, chop banana blossoms out of the can and sauté with taco seasoning.

As burgers. Sick of black bean patties? Shake up your sandwich game with these Filipino banana blossom burgers from food blog Kawaling Pinoy. Pair with your favorite burger toppings and dig in.

You can also switch up a classic battered fish recipe by using banana blossoms instead. For the recipe below, you'll need canned banana blossoms in brine or a simple saltwater solution. While you're shopping for ingredients, be sure to pick up seaweed flakes or powder, such as Maine Coast Organic Kelp Granules (Buy It, $7, These are essential for adding that classic briny flavor to banana blossom if your goal is vegan fish.

Once you've secured your banana blossom (in this case, in brine), time to start cooking. Ahead, exactly how to turn your banana flower into a delish faux-fish, according to Gregg.

Banana Blossom Vegan Fish Recipe

Makes: 6 to 8 vegan fish fillets

Cook time: 10 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes


For the faux fish:

  • 2 18-ounce cans banana blossoms in brine
  • vegetable, canola, peanut, or safflower oil (or another high-heat oil)

For the flour mixture:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons nori flakes (or kelp powder)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch paprika (optional)

For the batter:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (or lime juice)
  • 2 tablespoons pickle juice
  • 1 cup lightly flavored beer (or unflavored sparkling water)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (for color, optional)


  1. Carefully drain banana blossoms from brine liquid and pat dry, removing any small pieces to use in another recipe. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all flour mixture ingredients. Feel free to use more or less of certain seasonings, depending on your taste preference.
  3. In a separate large bowl, combine all batter ingredients. Gradually add beer or sparkling water, mixing until batter is smooth and thick.
  4. In a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, add a few inches of oil. Place banana blossoms in the flour mixture, making sure to coat both sides; then dip blossoms in batter.
  5. Carefully place coated banana blossoms in the hot oil, lowering each blossom away from you in case oil splatters. Fry 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until crispy and golden brown.
  6. Use tongs to transfer to a wire rack on a tray or plate lined with a paper towel.
  7. Drizzle with lemon juice and serve with vegan tartar sauce. Pair with French fries for vegan fish 'n' chips.

Adapted from a recipe provided by Allison Gregg, R.D.N., L.D.N.

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