Banana Hearts Kinilaw

Banana Hearts Kinilaw Puso ng Saging

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.

Weekend Herb Blogging
Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Palachinka

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

Banana Hearts Blossom

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.

Banana Hearts Blossom Pale Core

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.

To Serve:

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.

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19 Responses to “Banana Hearts Kinilaw”

  1. Arundathi says:

    no no don’t discard the match-stick flowers. they’re very tasty. we use them a lot in indian cooking. i’ve even posted a recipe with the flowers on my blog. its very healthy and delicious. i love your recipe. thanks.

    last blog post: Bombay Grilled Sandwich

  2. Joelen says:

    This looks wonderful and your pictures are gorgeous. I never thought of making kinilaw with banana hearts – how creative!

    last blog post: Project Pastrami…

  3. magpie says:

    Whoa, very cool. I’ve never tried banana hearts, but I’m sure I would like them. And I always like ceviche :)

    last blog post: Baby Artichokes (Weekend Herb Blogging)

  4. [eatingclub] vancouver || js says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever had banana hearts before. Or at least, not in a dish where they are the star. This looks absolutely phenomenal. I have to try that ‘kinilaw’ dressing. Only thing, I don’t know how available fresh banana hearts are here. The search begins. . .

    Thanks for the clarification re kinilaw and kilawin. I’ve always stood confused upon hearing these terms. I thought they were two different things.

    last blog post: Philippine-style Chicken "BBQ"

  5. Marija says:

    I’ve also never heard of banana hearts before. And that blossom looks out of this world! Love your whole blog, photos are fantastic! Thanks for your WHB entry.

    ps. I’m still waiting for some lower temperatures outside to make that Whole Grain Rosemary Potato Bread. I’ve been craving for it ever since I saw it on your blog :)

    last blog post: Peach & Poppy Seed Jam

  6. Jescel says:

    i’ve never had this in such a looooonnnng time. i used to eat this quite a lot. very good with greasy dishes like lechon kawali, bbq pork or even with grilled fish…. thanks for reminding me…

    last blog post: Ricotta Pancakes With Roasted Apples & Prosciutto

  7. kat says:

    wow, banana hearts are certainly new to me!

    last blog post: Blueberry Tarts

  8. Gills 'n Thrills says:

    I live in New Orleans and have banana trees in my backyard. Can I use those hearts?

  9. Wandering Chopsticks says:

    Sounds similar to Vietnamese banana blossom salad. Except we use the purple leaves too, only discarding the outer ones. Add fish sauce into the dressing and it’s pretty similar.

  10. Lore says:

    I’ve never used banana hearts in my cooking but this looks so mouthwatering, wish I could find them here!

    last blog post: Courgette/ Zucchini Cakes

  11. pixen says:

    I guessed Banana has multi usage like Coconut :-) Also any Southeast Asian and South Asian countries with tropical climates shared alike cuisines of bananas… either with coconut milk, lime juices, seafood, chicken, fish sauces, tamarind and other vegetables. Overall, I love them… :-) I was taught not to waste the little flowers because they are just delicious as the heart of banana. Just remove the hard stamens and blanch as usual… It’s a bit tedious that’s why most people and even restaurants threw that away… and they charged extra for the only the heart of banana :-D

    And… i love your blog with all the recipes and beautiful pictures! I ‘m still new in food photography though. Keep up the wonderful work! If you don’t mind I’m adding you to my Foodies Roll… ;-)

    last blog post: Grilled Nasu With Smoked Bacon And Feta

  12. Gay says:

    Ay, I want this! Wait till we get puso ng saging from home… :)

  13. arundathi – Thanks for the tip. I checked out your post and the dish looks good.
    joelen – The banana hearts were good – I really liked the texture.
    magpie – It looks wild but mild tasting. hope you like it.
    js – It’s usually thrown in with kare kare I think. Yeah there aren’t many dishes were banana hearts are the main ingredient.
    marija – Thanks. Hope you like the bread!
    jescel – Lechon kawali sounds so good right now. Takes so long to make it though.
    kat – It’s good stuff – try it!
    gills – I’m sure it’ll be fine. I wouldn’t know how to pick out a ripe one though.
    wc – Will try to fish sauce dressing – pretty appropriate considering that I buy banana hearts from vietnamese groceries.
    lore – Hope you find some…
    pixen – Didn’t know what to do with the flowers — should’ve saved them! It can really stain things easily, too so a lot of people don’t bother. I think it’s worth the potential trouble. Thanks!
    gay – Will try another recipe that uses more coconut milk.

  14. Bernadette says:

    Want to learn how to cook banana heart, i saw it done where the leaves are soaked in salt, squeezed then cooked. Any one know this recipie?

    last blog post: Eric Kayser’s Baguettes Monge

  15. oggi says:

    I love your photos!

    I will try this recipe soon, looks really good.

    last blog post: The Breakphast Of Champions

  16. Kalyn says:

    So unusual and interesting sounding. Wish I could taste it. I’ve never even heard of banana hearts!

    last blog post: Recipe for Garden Veggie Frittata with Chives and Parmesan

  17. Natashya says:

    This is definitely a new one for me! I didn’t know such a thing existed. (So sheltered here in Canada)
    Thank you for introducing us to this exotic fare.

    last blog post: TWD – Granola Grabbers

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