You can watch the video below to see the complete step-by-step on how to make these cakes. You can also check the photos above.
Skip to the last step if using canned banana hearts. See notes for more tips.
If using fresh banana heart/blossom: Peel and remove the outer layers of the the banana heart until you reach the fleshy centre that is a pale yellow in colour. Slice into half and then into wedges. Chop into thin shreds and then roughly chop from there until you have small diced pieces. You can also quickly process your banana hearts in a food processor.
Salt and soaking fresh banana heart (optional): you can place the banana heart or puso ng saging in a strainer with a catch basin. Add a generous amount of coarse salt or rock salt (around 1 tbsp) to coat the sliced banana heart. Leave it to sit for 15-20 minutes until it releases some liquid. Squeeze out the liquid and then wash through running water. This helps wash out any bitterness.I actually didn't do this step since I deep-fried my cakes but this salting and rinsing step if essential if you're going to enjoy your banana heart plain such as in stir-fried dishes or ginataan (coconut milk-based dishes).
Cooking the fresh banana heart: Heat a large wok or pan over medium high heat. Add in some neutral oil. Sauté the minced/diced banana blossom with 1 tsp salt over medium to medium high heat for 4-5 minutes. This is to get rid of any excess water. The banana blossom will change from a pale yellow colour to a light grey shade is it cooks. Once it’s tender and has decreased in size, turn off the heat.
If using canned banana blossom: drain the banana from the liquid/water. Chop these into small minced/diced pieces and then squeeze out any excess liquid. You can skip the cooking process for canned banana blossom/heart.
In a large bowl, place the flour, baking powder, nori flakes or cut up nori sheets, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Add in the block of tofu and then mash with a fork.
If using canned banana blossom, you can skip the water. If using fresh banana blossom, pour in around 1/4 cup of water first and mix to create a very thick batter. The water from the tofu will also help bring the mixture together. Add in the banana blossom/heart into the mixture and mix until well incorporated.
If your tofu is a bit dry, feel free to add 1-2 tbsp more water and mix well The best way to test if the mixture is good is to shape some into a ball with your hands. If it holds up well, then it’s good.
If the mixture is too wet, feel free to add 1-2 tbsp or more of flour and mix well. This will help shape the cakes and hold up better.
Place some bread crumbs in a large bowl or plate. Get a golf ball-size amount of the cake mixture and then lightly pat it down with your palms to create a small cake, around 2” in diameter and 1” thick. Transfer the cake to the bread crumb mix and coat with breadcrumbs. I like to use one hand for the wet mixture and my other dry hand for the bread crumbs to keep things clean.
Repeat this until you have all the cakes coated in the bread crumbs.
Cooking the Cakes
Heat a large pan or wok over high heat. Add enough neutral oil to submerge the cakes. If pan-frying, you can use a skillet or cast iron pan and add enough oil to coat the surface of the pan.
Once hot, test out the oil by placing some bread crumbs. If the bread crumbs immediately sizzle then it’s good to go. It’s important for the oil to be very hot (~380F) so the cakes crisp up and won’t absorb the oil as it cooks.
Carefully add a few cakes at a time (depending on the size of your pan/wok) and them fry until golden brown and crisp for 1-2 minutes and flip over to cook the remaining side to a golden brown crisp.
If pan-frying, this can take a bit longer depending on the amount of oil. You’ll want to cook each side until it’s golden brown and crisp.
Drain the cakes from the oil and then repeat for the rest of the cakes. Do not turn off the heat of your pan/wok and do not lower the heat while you’re cooking since sudden change in temperate can cause the cakes to absorb the oil.
Serve your cake while still hot and crispy with a squeeze of lime and dip in some sweet chili sauce or dipping sauce of your choice. Enjoy!
Banana hearts or blossom
Feel free to use 1 can or 450g (1lb) banana hearts. Make sure to drain these from the liquid well. Since these are much tender than fresh banana blossom, you can skip the cooking process and proceed to chopping these finely before mixing with the tofu and the flour mixture.
Extra Firm Tofu
I no longer pressed the tofu since the moisture of the tofu helps to bind everything together with the flour. But if you’ve pressed your tofu, it’s perfect fine too! I would NOT recommend using silken tofu for this recipe as this can turn out too wet.
If using canned banana hearts/blossom, you can lessen the water as needed since these are already moist from the liquid in the can. You can mix everything first before adding the water to see if it needs more added moisture.
The flour here acts as the binder. Feel free to use any flour of your choice.
If the mixture is too wet and doesn’t hold up very well, feel free to add more flour to bind everything together so you can easier shape these into small patties or balls.
Nori Flakes & Salt
Seaweed helps give this that 'fishy' flavour.
I purchased nori flakes that are very small seaweed flakes (similar to the size of nutritional yeast). If you don’t have these in powder/flakes form, feel free to cut up nori sheets you have at home into small strips or even very small squares.
Salt: some nori flakes are seasoned so you will need to adjust the salt to your taste since it may come out too salty if the seaweed is already salted.