Pan Fried Katblossom: The Report

Written by McDonald, T.  |  Date 27th of August 2021

Abstract

After browsing the internet looking for ideas of what to make next, I started to notice people talking about banana blossom and using it to make vegan battered fish and chips.  At first, I was reluctant to try it because of the frying aspect, but I liked the sound of this so decided to have a go at making this dish myself. However, I have never made batter before let alone battered banana blossom.  With this in mind, I decided to solve this problem by researching it online and in the library. 

My intention was to compare different recipes for batter, battered fish and battered banana blossom in order to create a new recipe that was low in fat and completely vegan.  Subsequently, I chose to go with the shallow fry option to keep the flavour but reduce the fat.  

In order to complete the project, I run tests on the batter to ensure its success, which was a great idea in solving the lack of experience in making batter.  Practice makes perfect after all.  I managed to find great ideas and inspiration from other vegans online and on social media. 

After conducting the research and tests, I finished up with a great recipe for vegan fish and chips that both tasted good and looked amazing.  The only thing I would change is to add a little more to the marinade.

Index

  1. Introduction 
  2. Literature search 
  3. Procedure
  4. Results (This has the finished recipe in) 
  5. Conclusion 
  6. Appendices
  7. References 

Introduction 

In order to support new vegans, some vegans like to create recipes that are very much like a meat or fish dish.  I stumbled across a recipe for vegan fish and chips, which invoked my curiosity and made me think how good it would be in helping new vegans.  I will cover how I created this recipe from researching other recipes online and in the library.  Part of the problem is that I have never made this dish before and neither did I know how to make a really good batter.  Since this is solely about the construction of a new recipe, I will not cover the nutritional side of the project.  The purpose of this project is to create a new recipe, which is close to the traditional fish and chips that others can follow and to reduce the amount of oil.

Literature search

I searched some blogs to get an idea of how bloggers where making batter. The following are the results from that search.

BBC goodfood (2021) 'Golden Bear Battered Fish With Chips' Immediate Media Company Ltd Available at https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/golden-beer-battered-fish-chips (Accessed 05/08/21) 

Delia online (n.d.) 'Shallow Fried Fish' [Blog] Available at https://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/collections/delia-online-cookery-school/shallow-fried-fish (Accessed 02/08/21)

kidspot (n.d.) 'Basic Batter' [Blog] Available at https://www.kidspot.com.au/kitchen/recipes/basic-batter-recipe/mqqv2vp5 (Accessed 02/08/21) 

Jamie Oliver (n.d.) 'Fish, chips & mushy peas' Jamie Oliver Enterprises Limited. Available at https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/fish-recipes/fish-chips-and-mushy-peas/  (Accessed 06/08/21)

Eholt (n.d.) 'Pan Fried Catfish Filets' allrecipes [Blog] Available at https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/21562/pan-fried-catfish-filets/  (Accessed 07/08/21)

Search for oil:

BHF (n.d.) 'Which is the healthiest fat for cooking?'  Available at https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/nutrition/ask-the-expert/comparing-cooking-fats (Accessed 06/08/21)

NHS Live well (2020) 'Fats the facts' Available at https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/different-fats-nutrition/ (Accessed 06/08/21)

British Nutritional Federation (2009) 'Oils and fats in the diet' Available at https://www.nutrition.org.uk/attachments/043_Oils%20and%20fats%20in%20the%20diet.pdf (Accessed 06/08/21)

Search results for vegan battered fish:

Elephantastic vegan (2021) 'Banana Blossom Vegan Fish' [Blog] Available at https://www.elephantasticvegan.com/banana-blossom-vegan-fish/ (Accessed 05/08/21)  

The Vegetarian Society (n.d.) 'Battered tofu fish and chips' Available at  https://vegsoc.org/recipes/battered-tofufish/  (Accessed 06/08/21) 

Vegan Life (2020) 'Banana Blossom Fish And Chips' Available at https://www.veganlifemag.com/anana-blossom-fish-chips/ (Accessed 07/08/21) 

Procedure

Before going any further I will note all assumptions.

  • It is assumed the reader has an in-depth understanding of veganism. 
  • It is assumed the reader doesn't know about banana blossom.  
  • It is assumed the reader has a great understanding of health and safety in the kitchen.
  • It is assumed the reader has at least some experience of using a kitchen untended and is competent in doing so. 

Because I have some experience of cooking and I spend a lot of time reading about food and recipes, I know that the batter will have flour and water in, but I don't know what else or what the measurements should be.  Furthermore, I have no prior experience of making any battered dish vegan or otherwise.

Expected Output And Constraints 

Before outlining the problem, I will note the constraints and state the expected end product.  The expected output is: 

A complete vegan recipe for vegan battered fish that uses as little oil as possible.

The statement of expected output defines the constraints, which are as follows with the added constant of no alcohol because I don't use it:

  • Vegan
  • Keep oil to a minimum
  • No alcohol

Stages To The Plan 

1. Outline the problem

Problem to be solved

  • I have no idea how to make batter and have never made anything with banana blossom before.  
  • Many recipes are not for vegans and deep fat fry the food 
Why is it a problem? 
  • I don't want to deep fat fry it.  
  • It must be kept vegan

2. Gather any reinvent information

Research process and tools i used:

  • Internet
  • Library 
  • Build a reading list (literature search)

3. Analyse the found recipes for commonalities and likeable ideas

  • Compare and contrast recipes (Put in discussion)
  • Note no vegan aspects to be veganised the process of swapping or making something vegan
  • Results
    • Searching for info about batter yielded baking powder and sparkling water or pale ale/ beer as a potential ingredient. 
    • Flour and water may seem obvious but searches soon revelled that different types of flour were a possibility. However, in the interest of using common ingredients, I choose to go with plain flour as one part with the option of using either corn flour or gram flour as the second part. The purpose of using gram flour or cornflour is to give a gloopier batter.  If providing for someone with a gluten intolerance, use all either gluten free flour or all gram flour.  I will nor be using alcohol since this is one of the constraints. 

4. Testing

Since I have never made batter before, it is necessary to test out the batter before attempting the final dish.  This will help save money and prevent failures at a critical stage if i use cheap vegetables to test on.   

Results

Amazing!  This turned out much better than I had hoped.  I had never tasted banana blossom before, so i did not know what to expect.  As it happens, it was OK.  The texture to the banana blossom was more like chicken in some places while more like tuna in others depending on which part of the blossom I was eating.  Nonetheless, the batter was perfect both in taste and texture. Furthermore, the batter was crispy, see figure 7 in output. However, the batter was darker than I had hoped, but not to dark.  At times, I thought it could have done with cooking for just a little longer, but that might have been too much for the batter.  Even so, the lemony taste of the marinade come through lovely and the whole dish was satisfying and fun to eat.  This was a definitely interesting.  All the hard work with the research and testing had paid off.  Nonetheless, after a second try of this dish, I think I would opt for the tofu version next time.

Serves 2

Time 1hr 4 minutes

Preparation 1 hr 

Cooking 4 minutes 

Ingredients

  • Banana Blossom x 1/2 can
  • Nori x 1/4 sheet
  • Rapeseed oil x 1 cup

Marinade ingredients 

  • Lemon juice from half a lemon
  • Pickle brine x 1 tbsp
  • Soy sauce x 1 tbsp

Dry batter ingredients

  • 2 tbsp of plan flour 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper

Batter ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 4 tbsp of gram flour
  • 1/4 tsp of sea salt 
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric 
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water and pickle brine (the water should make up the most part)

Apparatus 

  • Medium, sized saucepan with a lid. 
  • 2 bowls for the batters.
  • A metal slotted spoon. 
  • Measuring spoons.
  • Small whisk or folk to mix the batter.

Method 

Step 1 - Marinade the banana blossom for at least 1 hour.

  1. Drain the banana blossom and pat dry with a clean tea towel and place in a suitable sized bowl or container.
  2. Mix all of the marinade ingredients together.  Allow banana blossom to soak in the marinade while you prepare the batter.  It should not completely cover the banana blossom just coat in the marinade.  The idea is to flavour the blossom lightly.  If the blossom is to wet, the batter will have a hard time sticking to it. 

Figure 1, banana blossom in marinade

Step 2 - Make the batter.

  1. Yes, make the wet batter first so it has time to rest.  This will make it so much better.  
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients for the wet batter in a suitable sized bowl. 
  3. Add the water and pickle brine (1/2 cup in total) to the mix and stir with a folk until it has no lumps. You should have a yellow-coloured batter.
  4. Leave in the fridge to rest for 1/2 hour.
Figure 2, Batter resting

 Step 3 - Get the dry mix ready and heat the oil

  1. Mix all the dry batter ingredients together in a suitable sized bowl. 
  2. Heat the rapeseed oil in a medium, sized saucepan with a lid.
  3. Coat the banana blossom in the dry mix. 
  4. Cut the nori to fit the banana blossom and stick it to the blossom using a bit of wet batter.
  5. Coat blossom in the wet batter so it is completely covered.
  6. Test the oil is hot enough by dripping a tiny bit of batter into the oil.  If it sizzles good, it is hot enough. 
  7. Fry the battered banana blossom in the oil for about 3 - 4 minutes or until golden brown all over.  Flip carefully halfway through.
Figure 3, Banana blossom and nori.

Figure 4, Banana blossom in the batter.

Output

Figure 5, Banana blossom on plate

Figure 6, battered banana blossom

Figure 7, battered banana blossom

Figure 8, crispy batter

Figure 9, cross section of battered banana blossom

Discussion 

While looking for new vegan recipes, I noticed a few blogs and videos on the net about this recipe.  The idea has been in the back of my mind for a long time, so when I saw Banana Blossom in my local supermarket, I decided to buy it and work on a recipe that suited me.

Reasoning behind the ingredients

Elephantastic vegan (2021) in the blog 'Banana Blossom Vegan Fish' influenced this decision because once I saw it as an ingredient, I thought this could help to give it a great golden colour, which is the reason I chose to use gram flour instead of cornflour. 

Several blogs and recipes all used baking powder in the batter, so I used it to; however, none of the recipes used sugar and I thought this was something that was missing so I added just a little to the wet batter to compensate for the flour and baking powder. 

Salt was used by all recipes I looked at and seems like a good idea because it adds to the overall taste to the batter.

When it got to the marinade, I was influenced by this suggestion in a tweet by @DarrenLong71 (2021)

Sure enough, lemon juice, caper brine & nori did appear in some recipes, and I just liked the sound of the suggestion so i added the lemon juice, but used pickle brine instead and choose to use the nori, Japanese seaweed, dried sheets to wrap around the banana blossom so it looked like skin on the fish. 

Another choice that seemed obvious to me this time was to use soy sauce in the marinade.  This would add both flavour and saltiness to the fake fish.  When it can to the banana blossom itself, I choose to use the canned futurity for convenience, see appendix A. 

Testing

In order to save money, I decided to test the batter on cheap vegetables, aubergine and courgette, and a little oil to see how things went.  

First, I make a dry flour mix to dip the veg in:

  • 2 tsp of plan flour 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • 1/2 tsp of paprika
  • Some ground black pepper

After coating in the dry mix, I coated them in the wet batter.

Batter ingredients for test:

  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • 2 tsp of gram flour
  • a pinch of salt 
  • 1/4 tsp of turmeric 
  • 1/4 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp of caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup of water

I tested the oil by dropping a little of the wet batter into the oil.  If the batter bubbled, I knew the oil was ready.  

The result to the test:

Taste was great, but the coating was not even and some parts of the veg where exposed, see figure 1

Figure 10, battered veg
 
It is possible that the veg was too shiny on the skin parts since the batter did stick well where there was no skin.  Since the test was a reasonable success, I will keep this batter, but increased the amount of it and ensured the banana blossom was completely coated in the dry mix.  It was also obvious at this stage that I was going to need more oil.  This led to me using a saucepan with a lid some I could both increase the amount of oil and stop it from spitting. 

What went well

On the whole, the recipe was a success.   I am glad I did a test run on the batter because the adjustments I made really made a difference.  The batter was thick and crispy with a fantastic flavour.  The marinade also worked well with a hint of lemon coming through.  However, I was a little aware of the lack of soya sauce in the taste. Nonetheless, I did like the idea of using the pickle brine and lemon in the marinade and will make more use of the pickle brine in the future.  As for the overall taste, I was very pleased, but next time I will add a little more flavour to the marinade such as Teriyaki sauce.  However, I will keep the batter just as it is for the forceable future.

How I changed things and why

Many of the recipes suggested using beer, but as someone that does not drink alcohol, I changed this in favour of water and pickle brine.  I could have used sparkling water since the idea is about the bubbles making the batter lighter.  In the future, I might use something like shloer, an alcohol free alternative to wine, instead of water to add bubbles.  The reason I like using the pickle brine is because one, it added to the flavour and two, it is a way of putting the liquid to use rather than just wasting it as many do. 

None of the recipes used sugar, but I felt that the batter really needs it to spruce up the taste since the banana blossom is a little bland and the flour batter a little plain without it.  This turned out to be a great decision since it did make all the difference to the batter: it transformed it.

Choosing to use less oil that most of the recipes suggested was motivated by the desire to reduce the greasiness and oil in the final dish. 

Dispute some catfish recipes using butter milk, which I could have easily make vegan by using soya milk, I decided not to add this ingredient.  It seemed like an necessary step or ingredient.  The vegan milk would not add much if anything to the flavour, so I decided to leave it out.  It is better to keep a recipe simple.

Conclusion

Although the recipe was a great success, I could make some miner improvements to the marinade.  The recipe is a great vegan option to fish and chips or pan-fried catfish.   If someone was looking for a suitable vegan alternative to the traditional fish and chips dish, this recipe is a good option and is likely to impress anyone looking at it or eating it.  Anyone trying this will likely find it good.  However, after trying this twice, I am being to think I would prefer the tofu version.

Appendices

Appendix A - Banana Blossom

I found this can for sale in my local Tesco Supermarket.  Since i have never used it before, I choose this one because it was available and i had not seen it anywhere else.  


Appendix B - Shopping list

  • Tin of banana blossom 
  • Nori
  • Plan flour
  • Gram flour or cornflour
  • Sea salt 
  • Black pepper
  • Paprika
  • Turmeric 
  • Baking powder
  • Caster sugar
  • Rapeseed oil

References 

Elephantastic vegan (2021) 'Banana Blossom Vegan Fish' [Blog] Available at https://www.elephantasticvegan.com/banana-blossom-vegan-fish/ (Accessed 05/08/21) 

@DarrenLong71 (2021) Let it marinade overnight in lemon juice,caper brine & nori,  2 August [Twitter]. Available at https://twitter.com/DarrenLong71/status/1422192127258370048?s=20 (Accessed 05/08/21) 


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