Which Banana Varieties Are Suitable for Banana Fritters?
Are you overwhelmed by how many banana varieties there are at the market? Do you know which variety is suitable for banana fritters?
It is tough to decide if you don't know because not all bananas are suitable for frying. Some bananas, like the Cavendish variety, are meant to be eaten fresh. They turn soft and soggy when fried.
You were told the cooking variety is the best. But which one?
Let me try help you here.
Banana Varieties Suitable for Banana Fritters
I list six types of banana suitable for banana fritters. These banana varieties, grown and available in Southeast Asia, are called by other names in different countries. In this article, I use the Malaysian names, but I have also included its equivalent names for some countries.
There are also photos of these bananas for easy identification.
If you lived in temperate countries or in a non-banana growing country, you might find these bananas in Asian grocery stores. Alternatively, use plantains (which are also listed in this article).
So, check out the various flavors you get with these banana varieties and pick your favorite.
The Best Bananas to Make Fritters With
- Pisang Raja (the best and my favorite)
- Pisang Tanduk
- Pisand Abu
- Pisang Nangka
- Pisang Awak (my least favorite)
Plantains are a good option if you can't find any of these bananas. You don't want to use Cavendish bananas at all.
Pisang Raja: The Best Choice for Banana Fritters
We all have our own favorite banana, but for me, pisang raja is the easy choice. It is the best variety for banana fritters.
The texture is firm and delectable. They range in color from almost yellow to orange. Their sweetness makes you want to come back for more. On a scale of 1 to 10—10 being very sweet like honey—pisang raja would be a 5.
Pisang raja is mostly exported and is not easily found. Even if you find them, they will cost more compared to other varieties (with the exception being pisang tanduk).
That's the reason why the banana fritter street vendor sells the Pisang Abu or Pisang Nangka variety, which are cheaper.
If you are lucky enough to come across Pisang Raja in the night market or at your local market, buy them as it is not easy to come by.
Alternatively, plant Pisang Raja in your backyard. I have them in my garden and now get the cheap supply of the best banana variety for banana fritters!
English Name: Raja Banana, Musa Belle banana
Local Name: Pisang Raja (Malaysia/Indonesia), Radja (Philippines), Kluai Khai Boran (Thailand)
Pisang Tanduk or Horn Plantain is my Second Choice for Banana Fritters
If you see banana that is slightly curved, elongated and looked like a rhinoceros horn, then you have seen a Pisang Tanduk. It also looks like plantain. Hence, its other name, Horn Plantain.
Pisang Tanduk has a thick skin, which will turn yellow when ripe and is one of the bigger banana variety. It has a sweet flavor (scale of 5) and is usually fried as banana fritters, or sliced and dried as banana chips. It is also the most expensive banana variety listed in this article.
To fry, slice it at an angle (see photo on the right), mix it to your favorite batter, then fry.
Pisang Tanduk is another one of my favorite bananas for banana fritters. Try it, and I bet you too will like it.
English Name: Horn Plantain
Local Name: Pisang Tanduk (Malaysia/Indonesia), Kluai Nga Chang (Thailand), Tindok (Philippines)
Pisang Abu, Pisang Nipah, Pisang Sabah or Saba, the Most Popular Variety for Banana Fritters
Pisang Abu is also known in other parts of the country as Pisang Nipah and Pisang Sabah or Saba. It is the most popular variety with the street vendors for banana fritters as it is easily available, cheaper and has a reasonably good taste (scale of 4 for sweetness). Unlike some cooking varieties, Pisang Abu does not taste good when eaten raw.
This variety is slightly shorter than Pisang Raja at 3.4 - 5.9 inch (10-15cm), but broader in width at 1.2 - 2.0 inch (3-5cm) and has a thicker skin. When ripe, the skin will be yellow in color. The fruit has a soft texture and is light cream in color.
English Names: Dwarf Orinoco, Horse Banana or Burro, Bluggoe
Local Names: Pisang Abu (Malaysia), Pisang Batu (Java, Indonesia), Largo (Hawaii), Nalla Bontha (India), Matavia (Philippines), Horse Plantain (Jamaica), Kluai Som (Thailand)
Pisang Nangka, for a Sweet and Sour Banana Fritter
Pisang Nangka or Jackfruit banana when cooked, smelled almost similar to a jackfruit, hence, its name.
The skin is always green even when ripe. To know if pisang nangka is ripe, do the following:
- Press it gently and if it is soft, then it is ripe.
- Or check the end of pisang nangka. If the flower bud is dried and turned black and ready to drop off, then it is ripe and good for frying as banana fritters.
The ripe fruit has a soft firm texture with a light cream color.
If it is overripe, the skin will turn slightly yellowish and I prefer not to use this for frying, as it will be soggy and oily.
The fried pisang nangka has a sweet and sour.taste but with a more sourish flavor in it.
If the sweet pisang raja variety is not your taste, then the sweet and sour Pisang Nangka is perfect.
English Name: -nil-
Local Name: Pisang Nangka (Malaysia/Indonesia), Laknau (Philippines), Kluai Niu Charakne (Thailand),
Pisang Awak, My Least Favorite Banana Variety for Banana Fritters
Pisang Awak is my least favorite banana variety for cooking. One of the reason is the black seeds present in the variety. Another reason is the flat taste and sometimes the slightly bitter taste, or kelat as we said it in the Malaysian language. It is this distinctive bitter taste that makes this variety a popular ingredient in the banana beer, produced in some parts of Africa.
Despite all these, some street vendors use Pisang Awak for banana fritters since it is cheaper.
There are some other varieties of Pisang Awak that are sweet and without the black seeds but not easy to find in the market.
A ripe Pisang Awak's skin is a lighter shade of yellow compared to the skin of Pisang Raja or Pisang Abu. It is also rounder with a long tip at the end of the fruit.
The plant is known for its leaves rather than its fruits. Pisang Awak's leaves are more aromatic, soft and durable. It is best suited for cookings that use banana leaves as part of its preparatory works.
English Name: Ducasse
Local Name: Pisang Awak (Malaysia), Pisang Klotok (Indonesia), Kluai nam wa (Thailand), Chek nam va (Cambodia), Kayinja (Uganda), Vietnamita (Cuba), Nyeupe (Kenya), Karpuravalli or Monohar (India), Katali (Philippines)
Plantain, a Good Alternative for Banana Fritters
If the varieties mentioned earlier are not available at your local Asian grocery stores, the next best alternative is Plantain.
Plantain is almost similar in shape and size to Pisang Tanduk but is incomparable in taste. It is, however, a good alternative.
Green or under-ripe plantains are difficult to peel and you need a knife to peel it. It is easier with the ripe plantain that has yellow skin - the type suitable for banana fritters. If it has a few brown spots on its yellow skin, it is better as the plantain is more than ripe and the texture is not so firm. This is usually cheaper than the green unripe plantain!
To fry, slice it at an angle (similar to Pisang Tanduk) and mix it with the batter.
Cavendish Banana is not suitable for Banana Fritters
The Cavendish banana variety is eaten raw and not suitable as banana fritters. The over-ripe or bruised Cavendish, however, can be cooked and there are several recipes that you can find online for this.
One of this recipes is for mashed banana fritter or Pisang Cekodok. This recipe uses only two ingredients and is quick, easy and tasty. Check out the link for the recipe.
Trivial Banana Info
Do you know that banana plant is not a tree but is a herb? In fact, it is the world's largest herb. You would have thought that this tall plant has its 'trunk' made of wood. It is not. Instead, it is a series of leaves that are tightly overlapping each other.
Banana Nutritional Values
Banana is one of the most nutritious foods and can be easily carried in your bag to work, school or to the gym.
It has several vitamins and minerals (see listing below) for a quick and sustained energy boost, which is great after a workout.
Unfortunately, when fried, the oil and grease reduce these values. So choose the right recipe and cooking method for a better banana fritter.
A medium sized banana will gives you