I’ve received so many requests to test out vegan fish made of banana blossoms! They have a texture that is said to mimic the flakiness of fish. I marinated, battered and fried the blossoms and served with chips, a squeeze of lemon, and homemade tartar sauce.
The verdict? With all the accoutrements, this dish is reminiscent of fish and chips, but not a 100% dupe. In my opinion, the texture of the blossoms isn’t quite as convincing as I’d seen it hyped up to be, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a really tasty dish in its own right! We still enjoyed it and I think it would definitely scratch the itch if you’re craving fish and chips. I also think smaller pieces would be excellent in fish tacos with some cabbage slaw and chipotle lime crema!
This recipe is absolutely worth trying if you love to experiment in the kitchen, but if you’re just looking for a convincing fish substitute, I still think Gardein’s fishless filets are hard to beat! The texture and flavor are both spot-on.
What are Banana Blossoms?
Banana blossoms are an edible flower that grow at the end of a bunch of bananas. Their petals are layered, and many liken the tender, flaky texture to that of cooked fish.
If you’ve ever cooked with young green jackfruit, the texture is a bit similar! I find banana blossoms to be less tough and to have a more neutral flavor. Like jackfruit, I think they would also work great in recipes like vegan pulled pork, shredded chicken, or crab cakes.
Where to Buy Banana Blossoms?
Banana blossoms can sometimes be purchased fresh, but this recipe calls for the kind that come canned in brine. The best place to find these is your local Asian market. It’s generally in the section where you can find canned jackfruit, lychees, baby corn, bamboo shoots, etc. They’re also available to purchase online.
What’s the Best Brand of Banana Blossoms?
The quality of the banana blossoms will vary depending on the particular brand you use. I have had the best luck with Nature’s Charm and the Aroy-D brands. If you are trying to make vegan fish and chips, I don’t recommend the Chaokoh brand. Their blossoms tend to be broken apart, so you’ll end up with small battered fish “nuggets” rather than filets or strips. If you are making something like fish tacos, the smaller pieces might be fine for you.
Ingredients for Banana Blossom Fish (Vegan Fish and Chips)
- Banana blossoms. These are the star of the show and will be our fish replacement.
- Oil. This is what you’re going to fry your vegan fish in. You’re going to want something with a neutral flavor and high smoke point, such as canola, sunflower, or peanut oil.
- Flour and baking soda. These are the dry components of your batter. The baking soda will help your fried batter become crispy and light.
- Beer. Adding beer will create bubbles in your batter, making it even airier and crispier. Beer will also add a touch of flavor to the mix. If you don’t want to cook with beer, you can sub in club soda, which will still help the texture of the batter but won’t add any flavor.
- Garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. Adding these spices straight to the batter will just add a touch of extra flavor in the finished product.
- Shiitake mushrooms and konbu. These are two optional ingredients that can be used to make a broth in which we marinate the banana blossoms. Doing so will infuse the banana blossoms with a little fishy, oceanic flavor. If you’re into that.
How to Make Battered Banana Blossom Fish (Vegan Fish and Chips)
Step 1: Marinate the banana blossoms (optional). The battered vegan fish will taste great if you use the banana blossoms as-is, but you can marinate them to give them a slightly fishy flavor, if you like. Simply drain and rinse them well, then add them to a heat-proof container with a strip of konbu (seaweed) and dried shiitake mushrooms, both of which can be found at your local Asian market or online. Cover with boiling water and marinate for several hours or overnight.
Step 2: Prepare your beer batter. Our easy vegan fish batter contains just a few simple ingredients: flour, spices, and beer. The alcohol content and the bubbles in beer help the batter to crisp up beautifully when fried — and to stay super crispy when served.
When selecting a beer, I generally recommend anything light and simple in flavor. Usually I use a lager or a brown ale. However, if you love dark, malty beers, feel free to experiment and use one of those!
If you prefer not to cook with beer, plain club soda can be used instead.
Step 3: Heat your frying oil. Pour about 2 inches of oil into a heavy-bottomed pot or skillet. Vegetable, canola, peanut, or corn oil are all good options for deep frying. Heat to 375°F. I recommend using a thermometer for precision if at all possible. If your oil isn’t hot enough, the batter will take much longer to get crispy and it will retain more oil. If it’s too hot, on the other hand, you may risk the batter getting too dark before the banana blossom is fully cooked through.
At this time you’ll also want to set up a plate or tray to place your banana blossom fish once it’s done frying. You can use a plate lined with a paper towel, or better yet: if you have a wire cooling rack, place it on top of a baking tray. This will allow the excess oil to drip off of the fried blossoms rather than keeping it in contact, like paper towels.
Step 4: Dredge the banana blossoms. Whisk together flour and spices. Gently pat the banana blossoms dry and dip them in this dry mixture to lightly dredge. This will help the batter to adhere better.
Step 5: Batter the banana blossoms. Now you’ll whisk together flour and spices with the beer to form your batter. Make sure that your oil is completely up to temperature. Dip the dredged banana blossom into the batter to coat, briefly allow the excess to drip off, then place it in the hot oil. Be careful to place it in gently and let it fall away from you to avoid any hot oil splashing on you!
Step 6: Fry the banana blossom fish. Fry a few pieces at a time, taking care not to over-crowd the pan as this will lower the temperature of the frying oil. It should take between 4-6 minutes per blossom for the batter to become a nice, deep golden brown. You’ll flip the blossom about halfway through this cook time.
Use tongs to remove the banana blossom fish from the oil and place it on a paper towel or a wire rack to drain off excess oil. You can hold the fried “fish” in a 200°F oven until you have fried all of it to help it stay nice and warm and crispy.
Ways to Enjoy Fried Banana Blossom Fish
Vegan Fish & Chips
The most obvious way to enjoy these beer-battered banana blossoms is with a side of French fries, as vegan fish and chips! A squeeze of lemon or a dash of malt vinegar, plus a side of vegan tartar sauce, are great accoutrements. I’ve included a simple tartar sauce recipe in this post as well.
Vegan Fish Tacos or Burritos
Add the crispy fried vegan “fish” to tacos with fresh cabbage slaw and cilantro-lime cashew crema. Or add it to an epic “fish” burrito with vegan sour cream and escabeche (Mexican pickled vegetables).
Can I Make This Recipe Gluten-Free?
Yes! All you need to do is replace the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free substitute. I haven’t personally tested it, but a mixture of rice flour and cornstarch seem to be a good alternative.
If you’re using beer, you’ll also need to swap in a gluten-free variety of that as well. Luckily, we’re now living in the future, where there are a ton of gluten-free beer options to choose from!
Equipment for Vegan Fish and Chips
- Heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. This is what you’ll use for frying your vegan fish. You want to use something that’s heavy and sturdy, since it will be holding a large quantity of hot oil.
- Frying thermometer. This is technically an optional piece of equipment but it’s much easier to fry food when you have a thermometer. Keeping the oil consistently at the right temperature will ensure your vegan fish is cooked properly. If it’s too hot, the outside will cook while the inside doesn’t. If it’s too cold, the batter will absorb a lot of oil and become soggy.
- Wire rack. Draining your banana blossom fish on a wire rack is the easiest method for allowing the max amount of oil to drip off while cooling, keeping the batter nice and crispy. Alternatively, you can place your freshly fried “fish” onto paper towels to drain.
If you want more information about this recipe, check out the video on YouTube:
Banana Blossom Fish (Beer-Battered)
Fried Banana Blossom “Fish”
- 1 29 oz can banana blossoms in brine
- 2-3 cups frying oil
Eggless Beer Batter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 6 oz cold beer or sparkling water (3/4 cup)
- salt and pepper, to taste
Fishy Marinade (Optional)
- 2-3 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 piece konbu about 3 inches large
- boiling water
- 1 cup vegan mayo
- 2 tablespoons finely diced dill pickles or pickle relish
- 2 tablespoons capers drained and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced white onion
- 1 lemon juiced
- salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the banana blossoms
- Drain the banana blossoms and give them a rinse to remove the flavor of the brine. You will mostly want to use the large, intact banana blossoms and avoid the smaller shredded pieces. You may wish to have an extra can of banana blossoms on hand to ensure you’ll have enough large pieces.
- Banana blossoms have a fairly neutral flavor. If you like, you can marinate them for a few hours or overnight in a seaweed and mushroom broth to make them taste a little “fishy.” If you’d like to skip this step, simply proceed to the “Set up your frying station” section.
- To marinate, place the blossoms in a glass pyrex or other heatproof storage container. Add the dried shiitake mushrooms and a strip of kombu. Pour in enough boiling water to cover. Allow to steep on the counter until cool, then cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
- When you’re ready to make your “fish” and chips, remove blossoms from marinade and pat dry.
Set up your frying station
- When you’re ready to make your battered “fish,” begin to heat about 2 inches of frying oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or skillet to 375°. For the best texture, I recommend using a thermometer to monitor the temperature.
- You’ll need a plate or tray to place the blossoms after they’re done frying. Line with a paper towel to absorb excess oil, or better yet: place a wire cooling rack over a baking tray. The wire rack will allow any extra oil to drip off without keeping it in contact with the blossoms.
Dredge and batter the banana blossoms
- While the oil heats, whisk together flour, baking powder, onion and garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a bowl.
- Remove about 1/4 cup of the seasoned flour to a plate or shallow bowl. Pat your banana blossoms dry, then gently toss them in this dry mixture to lightly dredge.
- Add beer gradually into the main bowl of flour mixture while whisking.
- Dip each piece of banana blossom into the batter and allow excess to drip off before placing it away from you in the hot oil. Fry just a few at a time to avoid overcrowding the pan. Fry for 4-6 minutes, until golden brown, giving them a flip halfway through. Transfer to paper towel lined plate or to a wire rack and immediately sprinkle with salt.
- You can hold the fried “fish” in a warm oven (~200°F) to keep it hot and crispy while you prepare other elements of your meal if needed.
To make the tartar sauce
- Stir together all ingredients, cover and refrigerate. This is best made a day in advance to allow all the flavors to meld.