Top Shelf: Thai Spicy Banana Blossom and Pearl Salad

Nov 18, 2018 by Timothy MacDonald

Top Shelf: by Chef Tim McDonald

First encountered at Noiy’s on Samui – a hippy, rough-cut-diamond sort of speak-easy that sits not far off the main ring road. Once you’ve passed the hilarious “Better Call Saulishhhhhhh” lawyers and coffee shop/office, just keep trucking down the road. You’ll know you’re there when you catch the whiff of sandalwood. Birkenstocks obligatory.

Pull up a seat and if you can pass on the vegan bombs or the handmade hippie chocolate, order something not the norm when it comes to Thai food.

There is not much puff to the banana blossom salad, other than texture. Rough circular rings resembling cut leeks are quickly wok-fried and elevated with an ordinary Thai salad. But even Clarice Starling could be elevated to a classy charter dish, in the eyes of the right guide. And the same goes for the banana blossom salad. It becomes whatever couture it’s dressed in, with chili, palm sugar and kaffir lime being a few of the accessories that make it an unusual “never tried that before” charter dish.

Thai Spicy Banana Blossom and Pearl Salad



200 grams pearl meat, cut in lengths

200 milliliters lime juice

2 shredded kaffir lime leaves

Marinate pearl meat in this basic marinade for 20-30 minutes


2 banana blossom, cut circular (only the young, juicy inner bracts needed)

1/2 cup fresh coconut arcs

2 kaffir lime leaves, julienned

1 bird’s eye chili, cut finely without seeds

1/4 cup each Vietnamese mint, coriander and holy basil, fresh-picked and ripped

1/4 cup mixture of Thai fried shallots and garlic

1/4 cup finely cut scallion


80 milliliters coconut cream

4 tablespoons lime juice

3 tablespoons palm sugar

1 tablespoons fish sauce


While the pearl meat is marinating, quickly wok-fry the cut banana blossom. In a bowl, combine all the salad ingredients and toss in the dressing.

Grab the missus’s finest and largest glass plate – or even better, pearl chargers – and place a small rectangle of banana leaf on the plate.

Place a heaped serving of the tossed banana blossom salad on the banana leaf and top with an even share of the pearl meat ceviche.

Garnish the dish with more fried shallots and garlic as you see fit.

Tim MacDonald ( has more than 20 years experience as a chef. He was named Concours de Chefs winner for Yachts over 160 feet at the 2011 Antigua Charter Yacht Show. His recipes are designed for the owner and guests. Comments are welcome below.