Which Banana Varieties Are Suitable For Banana Fritters?
Banana FrittersClick thumbnail to view full-size
Have you ever been overwhelmed by the many choices of bananas available in the market that you had no idea which variety to buy and fry as banana fritters?
You know that not all bananas are suitable to be fried as banana fritters. Bananas that are meant to be eaten fresh such as the Cavendish variety will be too soft and will even turn out soggy if fried. You were told the cooking variety is the best. But which one?
Let me try to help you here. I have eaten and fried banana fritters using several banana varieties before, and will share with you my experience.
Six Banana Varieties for Banana Fritters
I have listed six types of banana that are suitable for banana fritters. These banana varieties, which are grown and available in Southeast Asia, are called by various names in different countries. What I had described in this article are its Malaysian names and have also included its equivalent names for some countries.
There are also photos of these bananas to assist you in identifying them. This will help to pinpoint it to your local names.
If you lived in temperate countries or in a non-banana growing country, you might find these bananas in the Asian grocery stores. Alternatively you can use plantain, which is also listed in this article.
So check out the various flavors that you can get with these banana varieties and see, which is your favorite.
Note: For recipe on banana fritters, check out this link to Secret to Good Banana Fritters Recipe
Pisang Raja, the Best Choice for Banana Fritters
We all have our own favorite banana and to me Pisang Raja is my favorite choice. It is probably the best banana variety for banana fritters.
The texture is firm and delectable with almost yellow to orange in color. It has the right amount of sweetness that make you come back for more. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being very sweet (as in honey), Pisang Raja will be on the scale of 5.
Pisang Raja used to be easily available. Somehow it is not that easy to find them nowadays, maybe it is mostly exported. Even if you can find them, the price is higher compared to other varieties, except for Pisang Tanduk that cost slightly more.
That is why your local street vendor that sells banana fritter will sell other varieties such as Pisang Abu or Pisang Nangka, as they are cheaper.
If you are lucky enough to come across Pisang Raja in the night market or at your local market, don’t just look at them, buy it as it is not easy to come by.
Alternatively, plant Pisang Raja in your backyard as what I had done. I now get an easy and 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 come across a 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), when cooked. 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 Jack-fruit banana when cooked smelled almost similar to a jack-fruit, hence, its name.
The skin is always green even when ripe. To know if pisang nangka is ripe, press it and if it is soft, then it is ripe. Another way is to check the end of pisang nangka. If the flower bud has dried and turned black and ready to drop off, then it is ripe and good for frying as banana fritters.
If it is overripe, the skin will turn slightly yellowish. The fruit itself has a soft texture and has a light cream color.
To use pisang nangka for banana fritters, choose the ripe green-skin banana that is soft when pressed. The texture of this variety is firm and taste sweet and sour. In fact, it is more sour than sweet, with the 'sweet level' sitting on a scale of 2.
If you are not keen on the sweet variety such as pisang raja, then the sweet and sour Pisang Nangka is just for you.
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 any form of cooking. One of the reasons is the black seeds that are usually present in the variety that is available here. Another reason is the rather flat taste and sometimes the slightly bitter taste, or kelat as we said it in Malaysian language. It is this distinctive bitter taste that makes this variety a popular ingredient for banana beer in some parts of Africa.
Despite all these, some street vendors still uses Pisang Awak for banana fritters as it is cheap.
There are, however, other varieties of Pisang Awak, which I was told are sweet and do not have the annoying black seeds.
Pisang Awak when ripe, the skin is a lighter shade of yellow as compared to the skin of Pisang Raja or Pisang Abu. It is rounder with long tip at the end of the fruit.
The plant is more known for its leaves rather than its fruits. Pisang Awak's leaves are more aromatic and soft, yet durable. Hence, there are used in local delicacies 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 you are the unlucky one, who do not live in a banana-growing country, and if the varieties mentioned earlier are not available at your local Asian grocery stores, then 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 and this is the type that should be used for banana fritters. If it has a bit of brown spots on its yellow skin, then it is even better as it means that 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 for frying 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 tightly overlapped each other.
Banana Nutritional Values
Banana is one of the most nutritious foods that you can easily carry with you to work, to school, to the gym and almost to any other places that you intend to go.
It has several vitamins and minerals (see listing below) and gives you the quick and sustained energy boost, which is great after a workout.
Have You Tried Banana Fritters Before?
All things when fried will not be healthy as compared to if eaten fresh.
Unfortunately, banana fritters need to be fried and despite the oil and grease, I will continue to eat banana fritters.
What about you?
If you have not tried it before, give it a try.
A medium sized banana will gives you