This recipe was inspired by a dish that I ate at Chim Sao, a restaurant in Hanoi, but it can be found all over Vietnam. A fantastically fresh and zingy salad beautifully presented in a purple banana blossom boat, the dressing was so good I had to drink it straight from the blossom.
The banana blossom salad was one of a number of well thought out dishes, alongside pigeon crackers and stir-fried buffalo. One thing we learned is to listen to the advice of your waiter. She tried to warn us when we ordered two special mountain rice wines. Expecting a shot to round off a lovely meal, we were surprised when she came over with a full bottle. There was nothing for it but to sit there and finish it off. So an hour later we stumbled out with fond memories of Chim Sao, and luckily I had taken notes pre-rice wine.
Banana blossom is not a common ingredient back home but can be found pre-sliced in asian supermarkets. Otherwise it could be substituted by other fresh salad ingredients like shredded lettuce, or fruits like melon, guava or mango and some sliced orange zest. Its worth hunting down the real thing though.