Kilawing Puso ng Saging

My first foray into cooking puso ng saging was, I have to admit, far from successful. One holiday years ago when I was but a wee twenty-something novice cook, I proposed to have our annual get together in my house and planned on impressing family and friends with kare-kare along with other party staples such as embutido and lumpiang shanghai. As was customary in kare-kare, I added wedges of banana heart along with the long beans, egg plant and pechay. Ahhh! My finished stew looked wonderful~fork-tender oxtails and tripe, crisp and vibrant vegetables, thick peanut sauce~but instead of the anticipated applause, it was greeted by complaints of having a discernible acrid, off-taste. We soon determined the culprit to be the banana heart and I, of course, was duly educated by my learned guests better experienced with this vegetable. I was supposed to peel the banana heart all the way to its paler core and soak the cut pieces in salted water to rid of its bitter sap. You can just imagine my dismay, the kare-kare was supposed to be the highlight of our celebration. I expected my guests to take one bite and sing my praises yet one misstep and my celebrated dish turned into a costly mishap. Oh well, live and learn. I definitely did not make that mistake in this kilawing puso ng saging.

Kilawing Puso nang Saging
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 10 mins
Author: Lalaine Manalo
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2 large banana heart
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 pound pork belly, cut into strips
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 Thai chili peppers, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
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Peel and discard the outer, fibrous skin layers of banana heart until you reach the lighter, softer core. Trim off stem and discard. Cut banana core into half and slice thinly.
In a bowl of cold salted water, place shredded banana and soak for about 15 to 20 minutes. Using hands, squeeze to release bitter sap. Rinse with cold water and drain well, discarding liquid.
In a pan over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions and garlic and cook until softened.
Add pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.
Add fish sauce and continue to cook for about 1 minute.
Add banana heart. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until softened and releases liquid.
Add vinegar and bring to a boil, uncovered and without stirring, for about 3 to 5 minutes.
Add water and chili peppers. Bring to a boil.
Lower heat, cover, and continue to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until pork and banana heart are cooked and the liquid is mostly reduced.
Season with salt and pepper to ta taste,. Serve hot.

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