Text and images by Tris Marlis @ Makansutra
The rule of living a healthy life is no longer “an apple a day,” we have moved on to the B – for banana. The health benefits (more carbohydrates, Vitamin A, iron and phosphorus than apple) of this sweet and somewhat starchy fruit is just one of the reasons why we love it.
What makes it best is when this healthy fruit becomes sinful, a guilty pleasure, like our beloved pisang goreng, banana split and banana milkshake. Many Asian countries share the same affinity, and for the World Street Food Congress Jamboree, we are bringing in some of the best and unexpected treats that worth going bananas for.
The lady finger bananas from Thailand are small, thin-skinned and very sweet. It is fibrous and somewhat reminds us of mangoes. Kluay Tord (banana fritters) is a popular street snack in Bangkok where we found this gem right at the heart of Nang Lerng market. There are many Kluay Tord vendors, but Mr Paiboon is known to be one of the very first and inevitably the best. The batter with a generous addition of sesame seeds and deep-fried in coconut oil create a wonderful aroma that lingers in the crispy and sweet fried banana.
If that does not satisfy your sweet tooth, we’ve got another version from the street of Vietnam – Chuoi Nuong (sticky rice banana). The sticky rice is first infused with coconut water, cover around a sweet banana and then the whole thing is wrapped in banana leaves and toasted over charcoal fire. The result – uber fragrant and crispy sticky rice with caramelised banana waiting to burst as you bite. With over 18 years of experience, Nam Bo Sticky Rice Banana is here to create dessert that makes you want to dance mambo.
However, the biggest twist we got from a banana is the Manadonese (west Sulawesi) Pisang Roa. They use green Pisang Kapok which has a harder texture, almost like potato, feels starchy on the tongue and with a tad of acerbic taste. The killer here is its companion – Sambal Roa (smoked fish chilli paste). This special smoked fish from Manado is ground into a coarse paste which gives the sauce a great texture. Along with the crispiness of deep-fried batter and soft banana, the combination is a party. Manadonese is known for their use of herbs and spices, their Pisang Roa is a combination that works in every strange way possible.
Try them out from 31 May to 9 June at the World Street Food Jamboree, and add them to your collection of the best of banana dishes.
The World Street Food Jamboree (31 May to 9 June) is a mega street food feast featuring up to 40 of the world’s best street food masters from Indonesia, India, Thailand, Vietnam, USA, Mexico, Malaysia, Denmark, China and Singapore. The Jamboree aims to create better awareness for some of the lesser known but still excellent street cuisine and the personalities behind it, bond communities through a vibrant food experience and generate opportunities for the public to the part of the industry. For more information, go to www.wsfcongress.com