Are you ready for your mind to be blown? Yes? Then check out this recipe for vegan pulled pork sandwiches using banana peels! Don’t believe it? Well, I didn’t either until I tried it and I can tell you that it’s actually really good!
It turns out that Venezuelan and Brazilian vegans have been keeping a big secret from us. They’ve been using plantain and banana peels to veganize their recipes for years and they didn't bother to tell us about it.
In Venezuela, they use plantain peels to make a veggie version of carne mechada. This is a kind of shredded beef that sort of resembles pulled pork. (Yes, they eat peels due to scarcity but it was in a vegan group that a Venezuelan person first told me that it's a good alternative for vegan people).
To veganize carne mechada, they first boil plantain peels then shred them with a fork. Some recipes marinate the peels in soy sauce and spices before frying them up with onion and tomato.
In Brazil it gets even better. They have a sort of pulled beef sandwich called carne louca ("crazy meat") which really resembles a pulled pork sandwich.
The vegans and vegetarians of that country figured out years ago that you can "pull" a banana peel and use it as a veggie replacement in that sandwich, renaming it casca louca ("crazy peels"). (I mean seriously, why didn't they tell us???).
To make it, banana peels are scraped clean, "pulled" and then sauteed with onion, garlic, bell pepper, tomato sauce and water. The mix is then stuffed into a baguette-like bun. Check out this video from 2016 to watch him make it.
So what happens when you simply replace the tomato sauce with barbecue sauce and the bell peppers with coleslaw? You've got a banana peel pulled pork sandwich!
I was super sceptical about the whole eating peels thing at first but brave enough to try it for you. Turns out it works!
Now, you are probably just as sceptical as I was about banana peels so let me put your mind at rest: no, they are not bitter and no it doesn’t taste like banana. The trick is to choose bananas that are yellow yet slightly underripe as the peels are firmer and thicker, and scrape out the white skin part from the inside.
And don't worry, banana peels are perfectly edible. You can google that.
In developing this recipe I wanted to test out both plantain and banana peels. I prefer the banana peels, they’re softer, easier to work with and cook more quickly.
Of course you should choose organic bananas for this and be sure to wash them really well. If you want you can soak the bananas in a water-vinegar solution to try to get them as clean as possible before starting.
[If you're worried about pesticide residue, Brazil has already answered that question for you here (let google translate the page for you)].
Once you’ve cleaned the peels, simply shred them with a fork. I first tested this recipe the Brazilian way by simply frying the shredded peels in barbecue sauce but I felt that it needed a little something extra.
So I adapted the Venezuelan technique of adding spices beforehand and I mixed together a quick pulled pork-style spice mix to marinate the peels in it while I prepared my vegan coleslaw.
The smoked paprika gives the peels an extra smokiness (obviously) and the chili powder gives it a nice kick but feel free to adapt the spice mix to your own preference.
Once your coleslaw is done the only thing left to do is cook the shredded banana peels. Simply toss them in a pan and add a few splashes of water to help them steam and tenderize.
They don’t take too long to cook but the cooking time is variable depending on how ripe your bananas are. The riper they are the faster they cook so you should taste them after a couple of minutes to see where they are.
You do not want to undercook them or else you won’t be able to bite through your sandwich and that’s unpleasant. You don’t want to overcook them either or they will start to turn to mush so be careful. Generally speaking they’ll need about five to ten minutes.
Once you’re happy with the texture, add a dollop of your favourite vegan barbecue sauce and give it just another minute to incorporate the flavours before taking it off the heat.
Give it one more minute to cool before piling it onto your bun and topping with your vegan coleslaw. That’s it! Who knew that something so delicious could be made from something that we normally throw away?!?!
Wanna see how to make this Banana Peel Vegan Pulled Pork Sandwich? Watch the video and share it on Facebook (read the comments tho, lol!):
Update 05/03/2019: This recipe has been up for a few weeks now and I've gotten a lot of feedback. Of the people who've tried it, the vast majority have enjoyed it!
Feel free to scroll down to the comments below or to read the comments on our facebook video, the link is above (many readers have shared their own photos of the dish).
I do not delete negative comments so you'll find some of those as well. Not everyone's going to like everything and that's ok.
Banana peel pulled pork has also made it onto the menus of several restaurants in places a far-flung as Hawaii, Malta and New Zealand thanks to this recipe!
I just want to emphasize the importance of following the recipe. There have been a few youtubers trying to ride the coattails of the virality of this recipe by making videos that shit-talk the recipe from the very beginning before even tasting it.
In each case they made mistakes by either using green bananas, not cooking them with water or for long enough, or omiting the bbq sauce.
Anytime something gets popular there's going to be people who will want to destroy it in order to take a little piece of the attention for themselves, am I right?
I understand that most people have not cooked banana peels before so this recipe might be a bit tricky the first time to figure out when they are cooked correctly.
It took me several attempts to figure it out and I've tried to write the recipe as clearly as possible for you. There's also a lot of information in the post above so it's a good idea to read it through as well.
If anything is still unclear, do let me know in the comments below and I will be along to answer them shortly.
** People with a latex allergy can also have a reaction to bananas. Don't try to secretly feed this to someone unless you're sure they're not allergic!**
Banana Peel Vegan Pulled Pork Sandwich
- 2 medium organic bananas YELLOW, firm and not quite ripe (mine still had tinges of green around the stem and bottom) *SEE NOTE AT BOTTOM OF RECIPE
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
- ¾ teaspoon chili powder
- ¾ teaspoon dry mustard
- ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- A few splashes of water
- 2 tablespoons vegan barbecue sauce
- A pinch of salt
- Vegan coleslaw
- 1 bun
- Wash the bananas well.
- Slice the top and bottom off the bananas remove the peels. Scrape the white part off the inside of the peels with a spoon.
- Shred the peels with a fork and cut them into 2 to 3 inch-long pieces. Transfer to a bowl and add the olive oil, paprika, chili powder, mustard, garlic powder, onion powder and cumin. (It's important not to add salt yet, I found they got super salty if I added it now). Mix well and set aside to marinate while you prepare your coleslaw.
- Heat a pan over medium heat and add the shredded banana peels. Add a small splash of water to help them steam and tenderize.
- The cooking time will depend on how ripe your bananas are (the riper they are the faster they cook) so start tasting after a couple of minutes. It’s important that they are tender enough to bite through but not so overcooked that they turn to mush. They should be done in around 5 - 10 minutes more or less. Add another splash of water and keep cooking if the pan goes dry before they are tender.
- Add the barbecue sauce and give them another 30 seconds to a minute more to incorporate the flavour. Add a pinch of salt to taste. Remove from the heat and let cool for a minute.
- Pile the banana peels on your bun and top with your coleslaw. Serve immediately.
[Editor's note: this post has been revised from an earlier version in response to a serious trolling incident that took place on Buzzfeed's video for this recipe (the troll was identified and the accounts were deactivated). I do not tolerate bullying and I choose to not promote, credit or mention anyone in this blogpost who engages in such malicious behavour.]
My cookbook 30-Minute Frugal Vegan Recipes is now available for pre-order! (No banana peels, promise). Find out what's inside!