palmiste_assiette.jpgPalmiste Assiette.jpgPalmiste Assiette.jpg© IRT
© IRT

Palms with generous hearts

Reunion Island has some endemic species of palm of which the edible hearts are used in the local cuisine. Patience is required after planting, because it takes four to five years for the palm to produce the cabbage, or heart, inside its trunk.

Nowadays, it is harvested and marketed under the strict supervision of the ONF (National Forestry Office of France). Look out for the stamp on each palm heart, as their sale is regulated. Like any rare product, palm hearts are expensive. They are used in cooking mainly for big occasions. 

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Paradis d’Eve
THERE ARE CURRENTLY TWO SPECIES OF PALM CULTIVATED IN REUNION FOR THEIR HEARTS
Hurricane palm DICTYOSPERMA ALBUM
Barbel palm ACANTHOPHOENIX RUBRA

Recipe for palm-heart salad

The palm heart can be used in salads, gratin dishes, achar (pickle) or as a side dish with curry. It has a crunchy texture and its flavour is beyond compare! The palm heart is a delicate and fragile product that must be used immediately after peeling, because it turns brown once exposed to air. Various techniques have been developed to avoid this. They are a well-kept secret… but here’s a tip: after removing the outer skin, soak the palm heart in ice-cold water and lemon juice.

Preparation time 30 minutes

Preparation

  • Remove all the hard outer layers to reveal the tender white palm heart
  • Pour the icy water into a bowl with a spoonful of lemon juice 
  • Use a vegetable peeler to cut the palm heart into thin strips, adding them to the bowl.       
  • In another bowl, mix the rest of the lemon juice with a pinch of salt and pepper
  • Stir in 4 tablespoons of oil
  • Drain the sliced palm hearts and dry with a teacloth
  • Place the palm hearts in a serving dish, add the vinaigrette and gently mix together
  • Serve immediately