Kinilaw (pronounced ki-ni-lao) involves fresh ingredients doused with an acidic component such as vinegar or citrus juice. Also known as kilawin, it is the Filipino version of ceviche, most commonly used to prepare freshly caught seafood. Kinilaw can also feature fruits, vegetables, and half-cooked meats. Additional ingredients include aromatics such as ginger, onions, and chiles. Coconut milk may also be used to soften the acidity and bring all of the flavors together.
A bit of prep work is required to reduce the banana heart acerbity, a weird feeling in the mouth that Filipinos refer to as pakla. The chopped banana hearts are washed in several changes of lightly salted water to draw out the bitterness and make it more palatable.
This preparation balances the banana heart bitterness, lime juice acidity, and coconut milk richness. Crisp and slightly squeaky, the texture of fresh banana hearts is highlighted.
recipe adapted from Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan’s Memories of Philippine Kitchens
Banana Hearts Kinilaw
Kilawing Puso ng Saging
makes 4 servings as a side dish
4 fresh banana hearts
4 shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
1 hot red chile, thinly sliced on the diagonal
salt, to taste
1 tomato, thinly sliced
- The banana hearts will oxidize and darken quickly after chopping.
To Prepare the Banana Hearts:
In a large bowl, dissolve 2 tablespoons of salt in 6 cups of water. Peel off the maroon outer layers of the banana hearts to reveal the pale core. Trim off the stem and discard with the outer layers. Also discard the rows of flowers resembling matchsticks. These are found under each maroon outer layer.
To Wash the Banana Hearts:
Gently knead the chopped banana hearts for a few minutes while immersed in the salted water.
Discard the cloudy water and taste a small piece. It may take several changes, but repeat as necessary with fresh tap water until the bitterness is to your liking.
To Blanche and Shock the Banana Hearts:
Fill a large bowl with iced water. Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Blanche the chopped banana hearts briefly for about 10 seconds. Strain the banana hearts and shock in the iced water until thoroughly chilled to stop the cooking process.
Drain the banana hearts and pat dry with paper towels.
Place the banana hearts in a serving bowl and add the shallots, coconut milk, lime juice, and red chiles. Stir to combine and season with salt. Taste and adjust the amounts of lime juice and salt to taste.
Garnish with the tomato slices and serve.