Nyoum Trayong Chaek (Banana Blossom Salad )


1 banana blossom 450 - 700 gm (1- 1 1/2 pounds) - available in Asian markets
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 cups water
1 large whole chicken breast 350 gm (about 3/4 pound)
240 ml (1 cup) loosely packed mint leaves
240 ml (1 cup) loosely packed basil leaves
225 gm (1/2 lb) mung beans sprouts
1/2 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
120 ml (1/2 cup) peanuts, roasted (see below) and coarsely ground
the addition of slices of red-beet (beetroot) is a very recent innovation which adds another level of flavour and a dimension of olour which really enhances this dish
80 ml (1/3 cup) Dressing for Salad (see below)

Dressing for salad (Tuk Trey):
60 ml (1/4 cup) water
120 ml (1/2 cup) sugar
1 garlic clove
1 small shallot
120 ml (1/2 cup) fish sauce
25 ml (5 tsp) fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons salt


Fill a large bowl with water mixed with the juice of 1 lemon. Set aside.
Remove the tough outer layer of the banana blossom and discard it, along with the developing  bananas inside. Carefully pull away the next several layers of leaves, regularly cutting into the stem to make it easier to break them off (the aim is to keep the leaves whole if possible). Lay several leaves on top of one another and slice the leaves crosswise into 1/4-inch wide strips. To keep the leaved from turning black, place sliced leaves in the acidulated water, turning occasionally.
Continue in this fashion, releasing the leaves discarding the undeveloped bananas and cutting the leaves into strips, until you reach the "heart." Cut this centre in half lengthwise, remove as many embryonic fruits as possible, and slice the remaining leaves width wise about 1 cm (1/4-in) thick.
In a medium saucepan, bring the 1 litre (4 cups) of water to a boil. Add the chicken breast return to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the meat is tender.
Remove the chicken from the pan and let cool slightly, then shred the meat with your fingers.
In a large salad bowl, toss all the vegetables, mint and basil together with the chicken. Set aside a handful for garnish, mix in the ground peanuts. Add dressing and toss. Sprinkle with the remaining peanuts and serve immediately.

Roasted Peanuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put raw peanuts in a shallow pan and bake, stirring occasionally to ensure even roasting, until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. When the nuts are cold, grind them with mortar and pestle.

An alternative is to pan roast the peanuts. 
Drizzle a very small amount of oil onto the bottom of a pan or wok. Over a low to medium flame stri the peanuts around until they just start to change colour. taste. If cooked then pour onto a plate, cool and use as desired.

Salad Dressing
In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add the sugar, stirring to dissolve. Set aside and allow to cool.
Pound the garlic and shallot into small pieces with a mortar and pestle; or grind in a food processor. Stir into sugar water, and then add the remaining ingredients.