Fried Bananas - Seriously, These Things Are Great!
While visiting a friend in California last year, he took us to a restaurant where he ordered some fried bananas.
I'd had fried plantains before, which I found very underwhelming. They're fine, but just sort of bland starchy filler, as far as I'm concerned. But he raved about them, so I went ahead and ordered some.
The bananas they used were about 4-5" long, sliced lengthwise about 3/16" thick. And, to my amazement, they tasted great. They didn't taste like anything I expected. Instead, they had this sort of sour sweetness that was complemented by the frying. But I hadn't had any since then, and hadn't given it a lot of thought since nobody around here serves them.
When at a market the other day I saw some of these little bananas, so figured I'd give them a whirl. I expected them to taste like regular bananas, just smaller. But when I got them home, they were pretty disappointing. They were pretty bland and starchy, but had this sourness to them. It was a familiar flavor that took me a bit to place. Yep, those fried bananas my friend introduced me to in California.
So, what did I do? What else? I opened them up and started slicing as I heated coconut oil in the cast iron skillet. I wasn't stingy about it either, putting it in over 1/8" thick.
It was an experiment for me, so I really wasn't sure what to do. But, hey, I've fried and sauteed things before, so it couldn't be that hard, right?
There are a lot of recipes out there that involve flower and/or honey. But I just wanted to see what I could do with the bananas. So, once the oil was good and hot, in the banana slices went.
At first it seemed like they were going to just get soggy. Some started to separate when I moved them.
A couple of things I learned:
- Lift them off the bottom a couple of times as they start cooking to keep them from sticking. Even through the deep oil, they wanted to cling to the bottom of the pan. But just lifting them a bit to get the oil under them, they wouldn't stick.
- After a while, they'd start to carmelize, gaining firmness on the cut areas. So my goal became to get them carmelized on each side.
It certainly was no disappointment. The caramelizing brought out a sweetness of the banana that was complemented by the sourness.
As I took them out of the oil, I'd drain them and set them on a plate. After a layer was on the plate, I decided to sprinkle a little cinnamon on them. Yep, that worked too!
I really don't know if there are right and wrong ways to do this. What I do know is that these taste great, and I'll look forward to serving these to guests - at least when I have enough that I'm willing to share! :)